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"Time is Retina": If the eye suddenly sees nothing anymore, there is no time to lose.

Ocular infarction is a medical emergency - study investigates early restoration of blood flow in acute infarction

29 October 2021 is World Stroke Day. Not only the brain can suffer a stroke - the eye can also be affected by an acute blockage of the blood supply. An eye infarction is characterised by a sudden, painless deterioration of vision within seconds. If left untreated, it leads to severe and permanent loss of vision in the affected eye in about 95 % of cases. The reason is a clot in the blood vessels that supply the retina. If the vessels are blocked, the oxygen supply is impeded and the tissue dies. The faster the blood flows freely again, the better the prognosis. A research team led by PD Dr. Sven Poli from the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and the University Hospital Tübingen and Prof. Dr. Martin Spitzer from the University Eye Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf is now investigating to what extent a drug can dissolve the clot and thus stop the destruction of the retina. Around 400 patients are to be treated throughout Germany as part of the study. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting the project with 4 million euros.

"When it comes to ocular infarction, 'time is retina'. Already within four hours after the blood flow is interrupted, irreversible damage occurs to the eye," explains study leader and neurologist Poli. Despite a variety of widespread standard treatments, there is as yet no proven effective therapy that treats the cause of the disease - unlike in ischaemic stroke, where the drug alteplase is now routinely and successfully used to dissolve the blood clot. "It is therefore an obvious therapeutic approach to use the same drug for ocular infarction," says Poli. The neurologists from Tübingen are now investigating whether it works - and how well - together with ophthalmologists from Hamburg in the REVISION clinical trial. Nationwide, 22 hospitals are currently participating in the study.

An ocular infarction is a rare clinical picture, less than one person per 100,000 inhabitants suffers from it. It is therefore all the more important that lay people and practising doctors also recognise it as an emergency. "If vision deteriorates within seconds and a shadow exists on the entire eye, the affected person should go immediately to the nearest eye clinic or central emergency room - if necessary, with the ambulance service, even if the shadow is only of short duration," Poli appeals. There, treatment can be started immediately after diagnosis. "The earlier an eye infarction is detected and treated, the better the chances of preserving eyesight. We also want to draw attention to this as part of our study."

Website: (in German only)


University Hospital Tübingen / Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
Neurological University Hospital
PD Dr. Sven Poli
Hoppe-Seyler-Strasse 3, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
Phone 07071 29- 83349, Fax 07071 29-5260
E-mail: sven.poli[at]