Cosmetic facial fillers injected into the skin may put pressure on the network of arteries, causing them to burst, and lead to temporary bruising. When doctors inject facial fillers between eyebrows and into smile lines, this can affect blood supply to the critical retina that interprets light. In a worst-case scenario, an eye could go completely blind. Alarmingly, it appears many doctors know little or nothing about the link between cosmetic fillers and vision.

What You Need to Know about Retinal Artery Occlusion

Our arteries form an interconnected network and a blow to one can spread to many. Retinal artery occlusion is the blockage of an artery taking blood supply to the retina, without which we would not be able to see. This may occur ‘naturally’ when fatty deposits are present in an artery somewhere, and ‘travel’ to other places, including the retinal artery.

When a retinal artery occlusion occurs, we do not have any time to spare. An occlusion can occur as the result of abnormal heart rhythms, carotid artery disease, problems with heart valves, diabetes, hypertension, high blood fat levels, or intravenous narcotic abuse. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms are similar:

  • Vision blurring or loss in part of one eye due to branch artery occlusion
  • Vision blurring or loss throughout one eye due to central artery occlusion

These effects may last for a second or two, for minutes, or forever. Your first take home lesson from this is, do one side of your face at a time, because of the potential causal link between cosmetic fillers and vision loss. If you have any concerns, arrange an urgent digital retinal imaging consultation.

Exploring the Link Between Cosmetic Fillers and Vision

The US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health reported as follows in August 2016 following extensive research:

“With the increased use of filler and fat injections for aesthetic purposes, there has been a corresponding increase in the incidence of complications. Vision loss as an uncommon but devastating vascular side effect of filler injections was the focus of this paper.”

It concluded, “Prevention through proper understanding of facial anatomy and good injection techniques is of foremost importance,” while acknowledging, “There is currently no standard for management for these cases.”

Be Mindful Before Embarking on Cosmetic Filler Treatment

Your thoughts of an instant return to supple youth could blind you, in addition to other deeper consequences of having facial filler injections. Some providers work in a narrow silo, with necessarily knowing the potential for this to lead to blurring vision and even blindness.

The risk areas appear to be the glabella, between the eyebrows, and the nasolabial folds, where laugh lines appear between the sides of our noses and the corners of our mouths. It could be wise to check with an eye specialist first, so you understand the consequences of the link between cosmetic fillers and vision. This is a clear case for thinking twice. We cannot repair a blood-starved retina.

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