Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA)

A possible cause of temporary vision loss is a serious condition called a transient ischemic attack.

Last Updated: April 5, 2024

What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?

A possible cause of temporary vision loss is a serious condition called a transient ischemic attack, more commonly known as a TIA or a “mini-stroke.” A TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may occur. It is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the brain for a short period of time due to a small blood clot.

A TIA may only last a matter of minutes, but it should not be ignored. An estimated 5% of people who experience a TIA are at risk of having a stroke within three months.1

See a physician immediately if you think that you are having a transient ischemic attack.

What are the risk factors for TIA?

Risk factors of transient ischemic attacks include:

  • diabetes,
  • high blood pressure,
  • high cholesterol,
  • heart disease,
  • smoking,
  • excessive alcohol use,
  • family history of a TIA or stroke, and
  • older age.

What are the symptoms of TIA?

Symptoms of a TIA may include one or more of the following:

  • painless loss of vision in one or both eyes,
  • weakness and tingling on one side of the body,
  • difficulty speaking, or
  • vertigo (dizziness).

When the blood flow returns, usually in minutes, the symptoms go away. Rarely does a TIA last for more than 24 hours.

What are the treatments for TIA?

Patients suffering from a TIA need to see a physician as soon as possible. The physician may order a list of tests, including blood pressure, a complete blood workup, a CT scan, an MRI, a Doppler ultrasound, or an echocardiogram. Common treatments to prevent a stroke after a TIA include medication, surgery, or angioplasty.

If you have a loss of vision, an examination by your optometrist is important to rule out any other possible causes of vision loss.

1 Shahjouei, S., Sadighi, A., Chaudhary, D., Li, J., Abedi, V., Holland, N., ... & Zand, R. (2021). A 5-decade analysis of incidence trends of ischemic stroke after transient ischemic attack: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Neurology, 78,(1), 77-87. Available from: