temporal arteritis

This is an inflammatory syndrome involving the arteries of the head and neck that can cause serious vision loss. With this condition, the arteries around the head become inflamed. If enough inflammation occurs, an artery can close off and cause sudden neurologic changes.  If this happens to the arteries running to the eye, this creates a sudden loss of vision.  Symptoms of temporal arteritis include temple pain (especially when brushing hair), jaw claudication (pain when chewing food), unexpected weight loss, night sweats, and general feeling of malaise.  Diagnosis is first made by looking for inflammatory markers in the blood (ESR and CRP levels), with a possible biopsy of the temporal artery if a more definitive diagnosis is needed. A biopsy is usually performed by a vascular surgeon only if we feel that the result will change the management of this diagnosis. Treatment is with steroids, usually taken for a prolonged course over many months (sometimes more than a year).  Temporal arteritis is considered a disease in the “elderly” and rarely seen under the age of 65.  Temporal arteritis is sometimes called “giant cell arteritis” and is related to a systemic condition called polymyalgia rheumatica where similar inflammation occurs throughout the entire body.

Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:


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