What Is Amaurosis?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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Amaurosis is a medical term used to describe vision loss that is not associated with a visible lesion. This disorder is divided into several different types, which are categorized according to specific causes and symptoms. These types include amaurosis fugax, Leber congenital amaurosis, and thiamine-related cerebrocortical necrosis. The use of quinine was once a relatively common cause of this condition, but this medication is no longer extensively used. Specific questions or concerns about this type of eye disorder should be discussed with a doctor.

Amaurosis fugax is a potential symptom of coronary artery disease and may occur just before a stroke occurs in some people. A temporary sudden loss of vision in one eye is characteristic of this condition. A blockage of the carotid artery is often a contributing factor to the development of this type of vision loss and will be carefully monitored by a doctor. Blood-thinning medications and dietary changes are possible treatment methods, although surgical intervention may occasionally become necessary.


Leber congenital amaurosis is an inherited disorder that causes a baby to be born with impaired vision. This is an autosomal recessive disorder, meaning that both parents must carry a copy of the defective gene responsible for this condition, although it is possible for neither parent to actually have any symptoms of this disorder. There is no specific treatment methods approved for use in this condition, and those affected are often considered legally blind. Tests for this disorder may not lead to an accurate diagnosis until later in childhood, although some visual disturbances can be diagnosed within hours or days following delivery.

Thiamine-related cerebrocortical necrosis causes cells responsible for vision to be destroyed as a result of low thiamine or vitamin B-1 in the body. Foods that are good sources of this vitamin include eggs, rice, and spinach. Oral nutritional supplements or injections may also be used to treat this type of vitamin deficiency. A doctor should be consulted for assistance in developing an individualized treatment plan.

Quinine amaurosis is not nearly as common as it was when quinine was widely used for its medicinal properties. Used mostly as an anti-malarial drug, quinine was once used to treat other medical conditions, such as leg cramps or restless leg syndrome. Complications from the use of this product may include blindness, bleeding disorders, or death. Those who do develop this disorder often develop some degree of blindness in both eyes.


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