Giant cell arteritis, also called temporal arteritis, is an inflammatory disease that affects your arteries. It often affects the temporal arteries, which are the arteries that pass through your temples and supply blood to your head and eyes. This condition can cause serious eye problems; here are four things you need to know about giant cell arteritis.
What are the signs of giant cell arteritis?
Since giant cell arteritis often affects the arteries that pass through your temples, severe pain in the surrounding area is a major warning sign of this condition. You may have a headache, an aching jaw, or severe pain in your temples.
Once your eyes become damaged, you'll notice a decrease in your vision. Double vision is another sign that your eyes are being damaged. Don't wait to seek treatment if you notice these signs, because without treatment, you'll experience the sudden loss of vision in one of your eyes.
How does giant cell arteritis affect your eyes?
When the arteries that bring blood to your eyes become swollen, less blood is able to pass through them. This deprives your eye tissues of the vital oxygen that they need. Without enough oxygen, your tissues can become damaged, and they may even die. This oxygen deprivation is responsible for the ocular symptoms of giant cell arteritis.
What causes this condition?
The exact cause of giant cell arteritis is still a mystery, but researchers have identified many factors that may play a role. The condition is suspected to be caused by:
Genetic factors, as it's reported to run in families;
Environmental factors, like exposure to certain bacteria;
Autoimmune factors, as it's suspected that the immune system may mistakenly attack the tissues that line the arteries.
How is giant cell arteritis treated?
Your optometrist will need to quickly decrease the inflammation in your arteries to restore adequate blood flow to your eyes. This is done with high-doses of steroids, which can be given either intravenously or orally.
Studies have indicated that early treatment with steroids protects 96% of patients from further vision loss, while only 4% of people experience an improvement in their vision after receiving steroid therapy. Since it's unlikely that steroids will reverse vision loss due to giant cell arteritis, getting prompt treatment is essential.
If you think you have giant cell arteritis, see your optometrist immediately for treatment. Giant cell arteritis is a serious eye condition, but with prompt treatment, you can save your vision.
To visit with an optometrist, contact a business such as EyeLovers.