Sudden Loss of Vision

Vision problem is a worldwide problem with more than 285 million individuals being visually impaired, according to WHO. Of these people, about 80 percent were completely avoidable or curable. However, if you experience sudden loss of vision, it can be terrifying. If you find yourself or know someone that is in this situation, you need to seek the attention of a doctor specializing in vision problems as soon as possible so that the problem can be properly diagnosed and possibly treated.

10 Causes of Sudden Loss of Vision

When you experience a sudden vision loss, it doesn't mean you are necessarily totally blind. You can experience sudden blindness in both eyes or just in one eye. The loss of vision can be complete or only partial. You can also experience a blurring of vision that comes on suddenly. It can last only a few seconds or can persist for several minutes or hours. Potentially, the sudden loss of vision could be permanent if you fail to seek medical attention right away. So, what are some common causes of sudden vision loss?

1.   Detachment of the Retina

This can be a very dangerous eye problem that occurs when the retina, the seeing portion of the eye, detaches from the tissue that supports it. The retina will fail to function properly and you can lose your vision permanently if the detached part of the retina isn't surgically repaired. Detached retinas are not painful but will be experienced as a sudden darkening of your vision. Risk factors for having a detached retina include being severely nearsighted, having had cataract surgery, an injury to the eye, or a family history of detached retinas.

2.   Occlusion of the Retinal Vessel or Artery

This involves a blockage of the blood vessels that bring blood from the retina back to the rest of the body. Occlusions can occur in the smaller branching veins, particularly in an area where the arteries have become narrowed by cholesterol plaques. The hardened arteries put pressure on a nearby vein and then you lose your vision. You can also have blockage of a branch of the retinal artery. The arteries are also usually narrowed by cholesterol plaques and blood clots will form in the narrowed part of the artery, leading to vision loss.

3.   Vitreous Hemorrhage

There are certain eye problems that cause blood to enter the vitreous humor of the eye. This is called a vitreous hemorrhage. When this type of hemorrhage occurs, the light can be blocked from entering the eye, resulting in a sudden loss of vision, blurry vision or the presence of spots in your visual field.

4.   Amaurosis Fugax

This is a condition of the eye that can last seconds to minutes and initially affects the peripheral vision. Along with a loss of vision, you can develop a loss of adequate speech and a transient loss of feeling on just one side of your body. It is not technically speaking a stroke, but it can put you at risk of getting a stroke. It is the result of a reduction in blood flow in the blood supply to the eyes. This sudden loss of vision is more commonly noted in those who are 50 years or older in age.

5.   Glaucoma

Glaucoma generally has no symptoms in the beginning until it begins to affect your vision. A rare type of glaucoma known as angle closure glaucoma can result in permanent visual loss in a few days' time. In this type of glaucoma, the pressure in the eye goes way up to more than three times what it is supposed to be. The increase in pressure causes destruction of the optic nerve, causing symptoms of painful eye that is red with blurry vision. The pain is often so severe that the individual even vomits.

If you think you may have sudden angle closure glaucoma, seek medical attention right away as there are eye drops and pills that can be used to halt the attack so that the eye pressure can become normalized. You can then undergo a type of laser treatment that can prevent future problems.

6.   Optic Neuritis

This involves having an inflammation in the optic nerve, which is the nerve bundle that sends signals from the eye to the brain. This is a painful condition that results in sudden loss of vision. This is a condition that has been known to be related to having multiple sclerosis, and in some cases, optic neuritis is the first sign that a person is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

7.   Ocular Migraine

This is a condition that causes a brief sensation of wavy vision or the finding of a blind spot in one or in both of your eyes. It can last between 10 and 50 minutes. Some people with ocular migraine will also experience a migraine headache along with the loss of vision.

8.   Drugs

Certain medications can cause a sudden loss of vision, including Cialis, Viagra, and Levitra. This is an extremely rare side effect of these drugs, but it can be very serious when happening. Some people who have taken these drugs experience partial or complete loss of vision. Anyone who is considering taking these drugs should be seen by a certified ophthalmologist. The doctor will look for a crowded head of the optic nerve, which increases the risk of vision loss.

9.   Giant Cell Arteritis

This is a sudden loss of vision that usually occurs in older adults. It is considered an autoimmune disease in which the blood vessels near the eyes become swollen and inflamed, thus lessening the blood flow to the eye and causing vision loss. This is similar to amaurosis fugax, but it is far more permanent and irreversible when happening.

10.   Other Conditions

There are some other conditions that can result in sudden loss of vision. These include having a brain tumor or a stroke. However, it is rare to have it with these conditions.When they occur, you should seek emergency treatment as soon as you can. 

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