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Visual Loss

Visual Loss is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Decrease in visual function (i.e., visual acuity, visual fields, blurry vision)
  • Visual loss has many etiologies and can be caused by multiple body systems


  • Ophthalmologic:
    • Eyelid or tear film abnormality
    • Anterior segment (cornea, anterior chamber, iris, lens)
    • Posterior segment (vitreous, retina, optic nerve)
    • Posterior to the eye (optic nerve, chiasm, radiations)
  • Traumatic:
    • Corneal abrasion
    • Hyphema
    • Lens dislocation
    • Ruptured globe
    • Commotio retinae
    • Retinal detachment
    • Retinal/vitreous hemorrhage
    • Retrobulbar hemorrhage
    • Intraocular foreign body
  • Neurologic:
    • Cerebral (cerebrovascular accident [CVA]) or intracranial pathology (mass lesion)
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Optic neuritis
    • Migraine
  • Cardiovascular system:
    • Embolic
    • Thrombotic
    • Ischemic
    • Hypertensive events
  • Immunologic system:
    • Uveitis
    • Giant cell arteritis
  • Infection:
    • Orbital cellulitis/abscess
    • Cavernous sinus thrombosis
    • HIV optic neuropathy or cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis
  • Endocrine:
    • Diabetic retinopathy
    • Thyroid disease may cause diplopia (muscle hypertrophy) or corneal erosions
  • Toxic:
    • Methanol (acute severe loss, subacute optic atrophy)
    • Licorice (transient loss, self-limited)
    • Digitalis (flashing lights, color changes)
    • Amiodarone (rare cause of optic neuropathy)

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Visual Loss." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307479/all/Visual_Loss.
Visual Loss. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307479/all/Visual_Loss. Accessed April 25, 2019.
Visual Loss. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307479/all/Visual_Loss
Visual Loss [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307479/all/Visual_Loss.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Visual Loss ID - 307479 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307479/all/Visual_Loss PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -