III. Differential Diagnosis: Acute unilateral Vision Loss

IV. Differential Diagnosis: Acute bilateral Vision Loss

V. Risk Factors: Acute Vision Loss predisposing factors

  1. Diabetes Mellitus
  2. Hypertension
  3. Hyperlipidemia
  4. Hypercoagulable States
  5. Cardiac arrhythmias
  6. Carotid Insufficiency
  7. Glaucoma
  8. Migraine Headaches

VI. History

  1. Timing: Red flags for urgent referral
    1. Very recent onset of Vision Loss (hours)
    2. Progressive symptoms
    3. First episode
    4. Sudden onset (Hemorrhage, ischemia)
  2. Lesion localization
    1. Monocular or binocular?
      1. Monocular: Ocular or Optic Nerve lesion
      2. Binocular: Optic Chiasm and posterior back to Occipital Lobe lesion
    2. Focal visual field deficit?
      1. Retina and posterior back through Optic Nerve and Occipital Lobe
    3. Periocular pain?
      1. Anterior eye or Optic Nerve lesion (requires Trigeminal Nerve sensitization)
  3. Associated symptoms
    1. Nausea or Vomiting with Eye Pain
      1. Acute angle closure Glaucoma
    2. Flashes or Floaters
      1. Vitreous Hemorrhage
      2. Retinal Detachment
    3. Associated neurologic deficits
      1. Cerebrovascular Accident or other systemic cause

VII. Exam

  1. Visual Acuity
    1. Snellen Chart
      1. Consider pinhole for vision testing in a patient who did not bring their glasses to evaluation
    2. Finger Counting (CF) at 1 foot and at 6 inches
    3. Hand Movements (HM)
    4. Light perception (LP)
    5. No light perception (NLP): total blindness
  2. Ciliary Flush
    1. Diffuse Corneal haze
      1. Acute angle closure Glaucoma
    2. Corneal opacities (especially with Fluorescein uptake)
      1. Keratitis
  3. Visual field deficit
    1. Monocular Blindness
      1. Optic Nerve lesion
      2. Transient Monocular Blindness (Amaurosis Fugax, Central Retinal Artery Occlusion)
    2. Homonymous hemianopia (field cut affects both eyes in same region)
      1. Occipital lesion
    3. Bitemporal hemianopia
      1. Bilateral peripheral Vision Loss suggests Optic Chiasm lesion
  4. Pupil abnormality
    1. Mid-dilated non-reactive pupil
      1. Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
    2. Afferent Pupillary Defect (sluggish or absent pupil response to light)
      1. Optic Nerve lesion
      2. Retinal lesion
  5. Funduscopic Exam
    1. Retinal Detachment
      1. Affected Retina will have the pale billowing appearance of a parachute
      2. In non-dilated Eye Exam, Ocular Ultrasound has better sensitivity
    2. Red Reflex absent
      1. Endophthalmitis
      2. Vitreous Hemorrhage
      3. Opaque Cornea
      4. Cataract
    3. Cherry red spot (red Macula)
      1. Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (e.g. Temporal Arteritis)
      2. Severe Hypertension
    4. Retinal Hemorrhage
      1. Central Retinal Vein Occlusion
      2. Other systemic causes
        1. Diabetes Mellitus
        2. Hypertension
        3. Head Trauma (or Eye Trauma)
        4. Bleeding Disorder
        5. Severe Hypertension
    5. Optic disc swelling
      1. Ischemic Optic Neuropathy
      2. Optic Neuritis

VIII. Management

  1. Rapid assessment and management if acute CNS event is suspected
    1. See Cerebrovascular Accident
  2. Indications for emergent referral to ophthalmology
    1. Keratitis
    2. Endophthalmitis
    3. Retinal Detachment
    4. Retinal Hemorrhage or Vitreous Hemorrhage
    5. Optic Neuritis
    6. Occipital infarction
    7. Central Retinal Artery Occlusion
    8. Acute angle closure Glaucoma
    9. Ischemic Optic Neuropathy
  3. Conditions with specific immediate temporizing measures by emergency provider
    1. Central Retinal Artery Occlusion
    2. Acute angle closure Glaucoma
    3. Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

IX. References

  1. Hartmann (2016) Crit Dec Emerg Med 30(6): 3-11
  2. Trobe (2012) Physician Guide to Eye Care, p. 31-35

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Ontology: Blind Vision (C0456909)

Definition (NCI) The lack of vision. It is caused by neurological or physiological factors.
Definition (MSH) The inability to see or the loss or absence of perception of visual stimuli. This condition may be the result of EYE DISEASES; OPTIC NERVE DISEASES; OPTIC CHIASM diseases; or BRAIN DISEASES affecting the VISUAL PATHWAYS or OCCIPITAL LOBE.
Definition (CSP) inability to see or the loss or absence of perception of visual stimuli; condition may be the result of eye, optic nerve, optic chiasm or brain diseases effecting the visual pathways or occipital lobe.
Concepts Finding (T033)
MSH D001766 , D015354, D014786
SnomedCT 40031005, 139548004, 277675000, 397540003
LNC LA17710-7
English Blindness, BLINDNESS, Cannot see, Loss of vision, Unable to see, UTS - Unable to see, Blind Vision, Blindness [Disease/Finding], blindness, blind, blind vision, Blindness NOS, Blindness (finding), Blind (finding), Blind, Blindness, NOS
French CECITE, Cécité SAI, Aveugle, Déficience de la vision, Déficience visuelle, Cécité, Vision basse, Non-voyance, Vision diminuée, Vision faible, Vision réduite
Portuguese CEGUEIRA, Cegueira NE, Cego, Cegueira
Spanish CEGUERA, Ceguera NEOM, Ciego, ciego, ciego (hallazgo), ceguera (trastorno), ceguera, Ceguera
German BLINDHEIT, Blindheit NNB, blind, Blindheit, Sehverlust, Sehschwäche, Sehvermögen, herabgesetztes, Sehvermögen, vermindertes
Dutch blindheid NAO, blind, Blindheid, laag; visus, blindheid, Amaurose
Italian Cieco, Cecità NAS, Visione ridotta, Ipovisione, Cecità
Japanese 失明NOS, シツメイ, シツメイNOS, 視覚消失症, , 亜正常視覚, 黒内障, 失明, 低視力, 低視覚, ロービジョン, 視覚-亜正常, 視覚-低
Swedish Blindhet
Czech slabozrakost, zrak subnormální, slepota, vidění snížené, Nevidomý, Slepota, Nevidomost NOS
Finnish Sokeus, Heikentynyt näkö
Russian AMAVROZ, SLEPOTA, ZRENIE PONIZHENNOE, ZRENIE SUBNORMAL'NOE, SLEPOTA TSENTRAL'NOGO PROISKHOZHDENIIA, АМАВРОЗ, ЗРЕНИЕ СУБНОРМАЛЬНОЕ, СЛЕПОТА, СЛЕПОТА ЦЕНТРАЛЬНОГО ПРОИСХОЖДЕНИЯ
Croatian SLJEPOĆA
Polish Ślepota, Obniżenie jakości widzenia, Wzrok słaby, Wzrok subnormalny, Widzenie obniżone
Hungarian Vakság, Amaurosis k.m.n., Vak
Norwegian Redusert synsevne, Blindhet, Synshemning, Svekket syn, Nedsatt syn, Synssvekkelse, Svakt syn, Synsnedsettelse