The only way you can know for sure what is causing sudden loss of vision in just one eye is to have a doctor examine you, and you may not get the answers even then. Anytime you lose vision you need to see a doctor right away, on an emergency basis. Here are some possible causes:
- Migraine headaches can cause loss of vision in one eye, but usually they affect both eyes. You usually won't just go "blind." You'll see visual distortions, shooting stars, or kaleidoscope-like patterns, which may or may not (usually they do not) obscure your entire field of vision. Some people have intense headache with migraines, and some people have no pain at all.
- A vitreous hemorrhage, bleeding from the retina into the eye, can cause sudden loss of vision, in just a few seconds, but there are many variations on the extent of the damage. Tiny drops of blood may look something like dirt on plastic wrap that interferes with your vision but does not totally obscure it. If you get prompt treatment, bleeding alone may not cause permanent damage. It may just be very annoying while you are waiting for laser surgery (panretinal photocoagulation) to seal off blood vessels that supply the periphery of your eye to send more blood and nutrients to the optic nerve. If you wait too long, there may be so much blood in your eye that laser can't be used. Usually there is no pain at all with a vitreous hemorrhage.
- Stroke can cause loss of vision, but you would usually half of your field of vision in both eyes, a horizontal semicircle of normal vision and a horizontal semicircle of blindness in both eyes. You lose your field of vision on the side opposite the location of the stroke. Stroke may cause tremendous headache, or no pain at all.
- Prolonged pressure on the globe of your eye, lying down with your face pressed against a hard surface, can cause loss of circulation to the eye. When you finally move, circulation returns, but your blood vessels may "blow out" and cells in your retina may have gone into a kind of hibernation state in which they cannot use oxygen efficiently. Suddenly restoring circulation to the eye may be the trigger that actually causes permanent damage. Always move the patient as little as possible and get to a doctor as quickly as possible.
- Retinal artery occlusion may cause complete loss of vision painlessly. Partial retinal artery occlusion may cause painless loss of part of your vision, always leaving a field of vision across your eye from left to right, obscuring either the top or bottom of your field of vision. One sign that is a give-away that the problem is retinal artery occlusion is a paradoxical response of the pupil to light; shining a light into the affected eye causes the pupil to dilate rather than contract.
There are things everyone needs to know about circulatory problems in the eye. First of all, things you do for your entire body do not necessarily translate to your eye. Juicing and fasting are fine for general health, but they are of absolutely no value in treating a vascular problem in your eye. Zero. The same is true for vitamins and nutritional supplements. They just don't get transported to the eye in the amounts that make a difference.
What does make a difference? If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels under tight control. If you have high blood pressure, get it down and keep it down. Most people who have vascular problems in their eyes also have atherosclerosis in the carotid artery. For long-term support of eye health, deal with diabetes, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. For short-term treatment to save your sight, always see a doctor as soon as possible, minutes from the first time you lose vision, not days.
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