Loss of vision can occur suddenly or develop gradually over time. Vision loss may be complete or partial, involving only one eye or even certain parts of the visual field. Vision loss can also be considered as loss of sight that cannot be corrected to a normal level with spectacles.
Sudden visual loss is a common problem with different presentations among patients of different ages. Variation in frequency ranges from a single episode to many episodes per day recurrences may continue for years but more frequently occur over seconds to hours.
What are the causes of sudden vision loss?
- Sudden vision loss is usually attributed to a reduction of the amount of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the eyes, resulting in temporary or permanent damage to the retina (ischemia). Ischemia has various causes and can appear in different forms. It may indicate high blood pressure.
- Fleeting Blindness lasts from a few moments to several minutes, and disrupts the vision before continuing inwards. Along with this condition, other symptoms include temporary loss of feeling on one side of the body and impaired speech. This form of vision loss is most common in adults 50 years of age and older.
- An ocular migraine may cause transient wavy vision or a blind spot in one or both eyes. The visual aura may be accompanied by a headache. This sudden loss of vision can be quite disturbing.
- Another cause of sudden vision loss in older individuals is giant cell arteritis. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the blood vessels, especially those around the eyes, become inflamed and swollen reducing blood flow. The symptoms are similar to but in some cases not as abrupt as those of fleeting blindness. Vision loss due to giant cell arteritis may be permanent.
- Vision loss can also occur as a result of increased intracranial pressure. Hypertension can cause decreased circulation resulting in a stroke in the eye. Vision loss can also be the result of a tumour, although generally the start of the vision changes is less abrupt.
Sudden vision loss not necessarily has to be complete loss of vision. In some cases the affected area might just be the periphery, and often the vision loss only affects one eye. In other cases, the vision loss may appear as a gray splotch that blocks sight. Sometimes the loss of vision might only last a few moments. In other cases, the impairment can last minutes or even hours, or the rest of your life.
If you have experienced sudden loss of some or all vision in one or both eyes call an eye doctor immediately. Book an appointment with an ophthalmologist quickly. If it is not possible to find an ophthalmologist nearby, you can always go online. Remember, sudden vision loss can be an indicator of much more serious issues that it is vitally important to diagnose quickly and treat.