Leader Heights Eye Center, 309 Leader Heights Road, York, PA 17402 • Phone: (717) 747-5430

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Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis, is a chronic inflammation of the lining of medium and large-sized arteries. The cause of giant cell arteritis is unknown. Left untreated, it can lead to blindness. Treatment should be initiated as soon as the diagnosis is suspected.

Giant cell arteritis rarely occurs in people below 50 years of age, and it typically begins at around age 70. Women are more likely to develop GCA than men, and Caucasians are affected at a much higher rate than people of other races. People of Scandinavian ancestry are at particular risk. People who have polymyalgia rheumatica are at an increased risk of having GCA as well.

Signs to look for include:

Especially –

And –

If blood flow to the eyes is restricted by GCA, it can lead to a condition called arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy, which can cause sudden blindness in one or sometimes both eyes. When treated quickly with high doses of corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory medications) before the patient experiences loss of vision, symptoms will be relieved and chances are excellent that the eyes will not be affected. For this reason, the ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) may begin treatment before a biopsy can confirm the diagnosis. One may need to take corticosteroids for as long as a few years, though at lower dosage levels.

Other eye manifestations of GCA:

Transient visual loss in one eye, sudden black-out of the vision in one eye and sudden onset of double vision in an elderly person is an emergency, requiring immediate medical attention! GCA can cause sudden permanent blindness, if untreated.

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