Sudden blindness is a rapid onset of vision loss which usually occurs in one eye only. Sometimes known as amaurosis fugax, it can be caused by a wide variety of factors. When people notice disturbances in their vision, they should consult an ophthalmologist immediately to get advice and treatment, as changes in someone's vision can be indicators of a stroke, dangerously high blood pressure, or another medical problem which requires immediate medical attention.
The presentation of sudden blindness varies, depending on the cause. Some people experience a rapid fogging of the vision, find that the center of their vision is dulled or blacked out, or feel like a curtain is being drawn over one of the eyes. Sudden vision loss is usually painless. People should take note of any additional symptoms they experience, as they may provide important clues to what is going on in the eye.
A common reason for someone to experience sudden blindness is an interruption of the bloodflow to the eye, caused by a blockage to the central retinal artery. A buildup of pressure inside the eye can also cause this condition. Strokes, high blood pressure, long term dialysis, and diabetes are all linked with damage to the eyes which can sometimes cause sudden blindness. Retinal detachment or trauma to the eye can also cause this condition. Optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, and other problems with the optic nerve can also lead to sudden blindness.
An ophthalmologist can examine the patient to learn about what is going on and make treatment recommendations. Relieving pressure on the eye is often recommended as an early and rapid treatment, and medications or procedures may be used to free a clot or other blockage. Since damage to the eye can result in permanent blindness if it is not promptly addressed, time is of the essence and care providers tend to work quickly.
This condition can also be observed in animals. In some cases, the onset of blindness is slow, but pet owners don't realize it because their animals cannot communicate about their failing vision. In other instances, a rapid onset of blindness occurs because of high blood pressure or other medical issues. As with humans, the best outcomes are possible when treatment is provided promptly. Pet owners should keep an eye on their animals and take note of unusual behavior which might indicate the presence of a health problem which could require the attention of a veterinarian.