Vision at risk

October 2009

FocusVision at risk

Sudden loss of vision

History and examination

Volume 38, No.10, October 2009 Pages 764-768

Lucy Goold

Shane Durkin

John Crompton

Background

Sudden loss of vision requires careful history and examination to identify the underlying cause.

Objective/s

This article discusses the various causes of sudden loss of vision and provides the general practitioner with a guide to examination.

Discussion

Rapidity of onset, duration and associated symptoms provide vital clues to the nature of the disease process. Simple examination techniques such as visual acuity measurement, confrontational visual field testing, pupil assessment and fundoscopy are integral to the appropriate assessment, treatment and referral of patients presenting with sudden loss of vision.

The sudden loss of vision is alarming to both the patient and clinician alike. Sudden and transient visual loss or obscuration may simply be a symptom of dry eye, or it may herald the onset of irreversible visual loss or stroke. The key to determining diagnosis is a focused history and thorough examination.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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