An inflammation (swelling) of the arteries, the blood channels that transfer blood away from the heart, is known as giant cell arteritis (GCA). The blood flow via arteries is decreased when they swell. The arteries in the arms, upper body, and neck are impacted by GCA. Because it affects the head, it is also known as cranial or temporal arteritis.

Reduced blood flow can result in sudden, painless vision loss because these blood arteries also support the nourishment of your eyes. This is brought on by an insufficient blood flow in the nerve that links your eye and brain. The name of this ailment is anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AION).

Different GCA symptoms may appear. A lot of people experience painful scalp and severe headaches, especially around the temples. Your vision may be impacted by GCA, leading to sudden vision loss or double vision. GCA typically causes blindness in one eye first, but if the condition is not treated, it may also affect the other eye. Therefore, if you experience these symptoms, it is crucial to see an ophthalmologist straight away.

Flu-like symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, and fever, may also be present. Double vision, headaches, jaw cramps, especially when chewing, neck, hip, or arm stiffness or pain, and unexplained weight loss are some of the symptoms that might occur.

GCA primarily affects older people. It is uncommon in those under the age of 50 and more prevalent in people over the age of 70. GCA is twice as common in women as it is in men.

Your ophthalmologist will do a thorough eye exam to determine whether you have any visual issues.People with northern European ancestry, particularly Scandinavian, are more likely to develop GCA. GCA is rare in Asians and African-Americans.

An inflammatory condition called polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) causes pain and stiffness in the shoulders and typically the hips. PMR patients are more likely to develop GCA. Additionally, severe infections and the use of high doses of antibiotics can cause PMR.

Your ophthalmologist will do a thorough eye exam to determine whether you have any visual issues.

Using an eye chart, they will assess your visual acuity (clearness of vision). To gain a better look at the optic nerve and the retina at the back of the eye, measure your eye pressure and enlarge your pupils.

Your head will also be examined by your doctor. One side of the scalp may have a painful, thick artery and be sensitive to touch. There may be no pulse or a faint pulse in the afflicted artery.

Your physician will ask for bloodwork. The tests can determine whether your body is inflammatory even though they cannot diagnose giant cell arteritis (GCA) (swelling). You probably do not have GCA if the blood tests are normal. You will require a biopsy (sample of tissue) from your temple artery in the event that the blood tests reveal something wrong. You will require steroid therapy if the artery is inflamed.

Your doctor might schedule imaging tests like an MRI to look at the state of your arteries. You can test your visual field to see whether you have any side vision loss.

You will likely be given steroid tablets by your doctor. Your doctor might administer steroid tablets to you before confirming that you have GCA. To avoid visual loss, GCA must be treated as soon as feasible. Many patients experience improvement soon after beginning treatment, although it may take up to two years.

If you have lost your vision due to GCA, it is possible that after you start using steroids, it will stabilize. Any visual loss you currently experience, though, could be permanent. In these circumstances, figuring out how to maximize your remaining vision will help you maintain your independence.

If you take steroids, your doctor needs to closely watch you since they can have negative effects.

Tocilizumab, another medication, has recently received FDA approval to treat GCA. This medication is injected and can be administered at home or in the doctor’s office. For those who have had specific infections or disorders, tocilizumab might not be the best treatment option. To find out if you are a good candidate for this medication, consult your doctor.

At The Eye Center- Dr. Mahnaz Naveed Shah & Associates our team of eight ophthalmology subspecialists/ eye specialists, eye surgeons who are considered amongst the very best eye specialists in Karachi and in Pakistan, have the diagnostic and treatment capabilities to treat from the simplest to the most complex patients. We work hard to provide our patients with the best possible medical and surgical eye care, in a state of the art purpose built eye care facility. We offer the entire array of medical, laser and surgical treatments to help provide patients the best possible care in the most efficient, safe and ethical manner.

If you need an appointment, please contact us at 03041119544 during our working hours or leave us a WhatsApp message at +923028291799 and someone will connect with you. Walk-in appointments are also available for emergencies. We can also be reached through our web portal on

image credits EyeWiki

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