Sudden vision loss occurs in just a few minutes up to several days. It can involve one or both eyes and the entire or a section of the field of vision. The loss of only a small region of the field of vision seems similar to having a blurred vision. Other symptoms such as eye pain might occur depending on the exact cause of the vision loss.
Possible causes of sudden vision loss
It is important to note that sudden vision loss has 3 general causes such as the following:
- Abnormalities of the retina
- Clouding of the translucent eye structures
- Irregularities of the nerves that transport visual signals from the eye to the brain
Light should travel via several see-through structures before it can be perceived by the retina. Initially, the light passes via the cornea, then the lens and the vitreous humor. Anything that obstructs light from passing through these structures such as bleeding into the vitreous humor or a corneal ulcer can cause vision loss.
What are the common causes?
- Eye injuries
- Obstruction of a main artery of the retina
- Blood in the jelly-like vitreous humor close to the back part of the eye
- Blockage of an artery to the optic nerve
- Obstruction of a main vein in the retina
The uncommon causes of sudden vision loss include stroke, retinal detachment, acute glaucoma, certain retinal infections, bleeding inside the retina and inflammation of the structures in the anterior of the eye between the cornea and the lens.
When to consult a doctor
If an individual experiences sudden vision loss, it is vital to set an appointment with an ophthalmologist or bring the individual to the nearest emergency department right away.
What to expect during a check-up?
The doctor will ask questions about the symptoms and medical history and then followed by a physical examination. The findings during the history taking and physical assessment often indicate the cause and the tests that are needed to be carried out.
If further testing is needed, certain tests are vital such as ultrasonography, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein level and gadolinium-enhanced MRI.
The condition responsible for the vision loss should be managed as quickly as possible although treatment might not be able to save or restore the vision of the individual. Nevertheless, immediate treatment can minimize the risk of the same process that takes place in the other eye.