Blind Spots in Vision: Causes and Treatments

Have you recently noticed problems with your vision, such as the presence of blind spots? If yes, you should seek immediate medical help as it can indicate a serious problem. Blind spots in vision, also known as a scotoma, can affect one or both eyes. These blind spots can occur in the center or in the edges of your vision. Seek medical care from an ophthalmologist if scotoma appears.

What Are Main Symptoms of Scotoma?

Scotoma is characterized by one or more dark, light or blurred spots in the vision. Once the visual field is affected, a person might need greater illumination or contract when reading, and there might be a difficulty perceiving certain colors.

Main types of scotoma are:

  • Peripheral scotoma – a blind spot or decreased area vision located on the edges of the vision field which has a minimal effect on the vision and daily life
  • Paracentral scotoma – a blind spot or decreased area vision located near the central area, but not in the central area of the vision field, with a greater impact in the vision and daily life when compared to peripheral scotoma
  • Central scotoma – a blind spot or decreased area of vision located in the center of the vision field which severely affects a person’s ability to see, read and perform daily tasks
  • Hemianopic scotoma – a blind spot or decreased area of vision located on the half of the central visual field, with a great impact on daily life as well

How Is Scotoma Diagnosed?

In the initial stages of scotoma or blind spots in vision, a physical examination will help its diagnosis. The eyes are carefully examined accompanied by a detailed medical history. Medical tests and examinations which are used to diagnose scotoma include:

  • Examination of the eyes using a microscope which has a light attached to it, in order to look closely at the front and back of the eyes. This attached light to the microscope is known as the slit lamp.
  • Examination of the eyes using eye drops which help enlarge and dilate the pupils in order to examine the back of the eyes carefully using a slit lamp
  • Testing the visual field, which consists of using spots of light to measure the central vision and the peripheral vision

What Causes Blind Spots in Vision?

Various factors can lead to the blind spots. Common causes include:

  • Corrective surgical operation in the eye
  • Ocular infection which leads to a scar in the eye
  • A degenerative hereditary condition of the retina, known as retinitis pigmentosa which is characterized also by night blindness, changes of the pigment within the retina and even eventual loss of the eye vision
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Poor nutrition
  • Serious vitamin deficiency
  • Blockages of the retinal veins or optic nerve
  • Toxic substances such as methyl alcohol, and quinine
  • Side effects of high blood pressure
  • Side effects of multiple sclerosis

Scotoma due to tumors of the pituitary gland is also possible, as the optic nerve is compressed. It is a less common type of scotoma, which can sometimes be cured or reversed with surgical removal of the tumor.

Among pregnant women, scotoma is a sign of preeclampsia which requires proper medical treatment and monitoring in order to make sure that the health of the mother and the developing fetus is not in danger.

How Can Scotoma Be Treated?

The treatment of scotoma depends on its underlying causes. In cases when the scotoma is related to migraine headaches, no treatment is required, as these blind spots in vision are only temporary and go away within a couple of hours. Your healthcare provider will recommend certain aids which can help support your vision. Helpful tips include:

  • Using phones which have a larger keypad
  • Using large type printed books or enlarging the size of the character in an eReader
  • Using magnifying eyeglasses whenever you need to read something
  • Using large TV screens in order to enlarge the size of the letters
  • Using filters to reduce the glare on your computer screen
  • Using PC hardware keyboards, and software that magnify the computer screen, and even convert the text to speech if needed
  • Using audio books, magazines and newspapers that read the printed material, etc.
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