I knew months ago that my January blog would be about strokes. But I never dreamed that I’d be writing it from a very painful and personal perspective.
Upon waking one morning last month, my husband, Howard, realized he had sudden significant vision loss in his right eye. Let me tell you, few things are as frightening as that. Agonizing days followed while Howard underwent medical tests.
Finally, his diagnosis: A stroke of the optic nerve, the cable that connects the eye to the brain. The medical term is non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAAION).
NAAION is caused by impaired circulation of blood to the front of the optic nerve. It is called “non-arteritic” because although there is reduced blood flow, there is no inflammation of the blood vessels. It is called “anterior” because the reduced blood flow and injury to the optic nerve happen at the front-most part of the nerve, where the nerve meets the eye. It is called “ischemic” because that is the word that describes injury due to reduced blood flow. Finally, it is called “optic neuropathy” because it is an injury to the optic nerve, which disrupts the ability of the eye to send information to the brain.
The exact cause of reduced blood flow to the optic nerve in NAAION has not been proven. But it is known that this condition occurs more often when a patient is over the age of 50, and has conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. Smoking may also elevate the risk of developing NAAION. Most patients with NAAION have an anatomical variation of the optic nerve, making that area tight and crowded. That anatomy probably contributes to the impaired circulation that causes NAAION. And, although it is controversial, some researchers believe that another risk factor for NAAION may be the use of blood pressure medications at nighttime, contributing to lower blood pressure during sleep.
Howard is over 50, but he has none of the other typical risk factors. An avid bicyclist and hiker, he is physically fit, and has normal blood pressure. He takes no medications whatsoever and has never smoked. But, he does have evidence of the anatomical variation of his optic nerve causing crowding. He also snores. So, he’ll soon be given a sleep study to see if he has sleep apnea as an underlying factor.
Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments for NAAION. But, many patients do regain some vision in their affected eye within 2 to 3 months.
In my book, “Bio-Touch: Healing With The Power In Our Fingertips” I relate the story of Curtis, a man left blind from a genetic condition. Bio-Touch helped him to see again! And that’s why I have started giving Howard Bio-Touch every day. There are no medical treatments to help Howard’s condition, but we know the amazing thing Bio-Touch did for Curtis, and that gives us precious hope! And, sharing Bio-Touch with him gives me something I can do to help Howard through this very difficult time. And that helps both of us feel better!