J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 71:247-249 doi:10.1136/jnnp.71.2.247
  • Short report

Clinical features of transient monocular blindness and the likelihood of atherosclerotic lesions of the internal carotid artery

  1. R C J M Donders for the Dutch TMB Study Group (see )
  1. Dr R C J M Donders Department of Neurology, Diakonessenhuis Utrecht, Bosboomstraat 1, 3582 KE Utrecht, The Netherlandsrdonders{at}
  • Received 16 September 1999
  • Revised 11 April 2001
  • Accepted 23 April 2001


To assess which features of transient monocular blindness (TMB) are associated with atherosclerotic changes in the ipsilateral internal carotid artery (ICA), 337 patients with sudden, transient monocular loss of vision were prospectively studied. History characteristics of the attack were compared with the presence of atherosclerotic lesions of the ipsilateral ICA. All patients were directly interviewed by a single investigator. Of all patients, 159 had a normal ICA on the relevant side, 33 had a stenosis between 0%–69%, 100 had a stenosis of 70%–99%, and 45 had an ICA occlusion.

 An altitudinal onset or disappearance of symptoms was associated with atherosclerotic lesions of the ipsilateral ICA. A severe (70%–99%) stenosis was also associated with a duration between 1 and 10 minutes, and with a speed of onset in seconds. An ICA occlusion was associated with attacks being provoked by bright light, an altitudinal onset, and the occurrence of more than 10 attacks. Patients who could not remember details about the mode of onset, disappearance, or duration of the attack were likely to have a normal ICA. Our findings may facilitate the clinical decision whether or not to perform ancillary investigations in these patients.


  • Addresses of members of the writing committee are given below

    Department of Neurology and Rudolf Magnus Institute of NeurosciencesA Algra R C J M Donders L J Kappelle J Van Gijn

    Julius Center for Patient Oriented Research, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The NetherlandsA Algra

    Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsP J Koudstaal