Vision at risk

October 2009

FocusVision at risk

Sudden loss of vision

Investigation and management

Volume 38, No.10, October 2009 Pages 770-772

Lucy Goold

Shane Durkin

John Crompton


Sudden vision loss usually requires urgent ophthalmic assessment. Diagnosis and management requires the judicious use of a wide range of serological and imaging investigations to guide appropriate treatment and referral.


This article follows on from the previous discussion of the role of history and examination to discuss the appropriate investigation and management of common causes of sudden visual loss.


The key historical and examination findings have now been extracted and synthesised and these inform the next step. The general practitioner must now decide upon the most appropriate and timely investigation pathway or the need for, and urgency of, referral.

Investigation and management should be determined depending on the findings from the history and examination. Several of the more common and potentially sight or life threatening aetiologies will be discussed here, although this is not an exhaustive list. Many of the conditions discussed will cause temporary visual loss and several may become permanent, particularly if not promptly managed.

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