Sudden loss of vision, which can happen in minutes or over a few days, is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. Many conditions can cause sudden vision loss. Treatment will depend on the cause.
Sudden vision loss is a medical emergency. Sudden vision loss means a swift, usually unexpected, loss of the ability to see well or to see at all. It can happen in seconds, minutes or even over a few days. It can happen in one eye or both eyes. You can lose all vision or vision in one part of your visual field, such as a loss of central vision.
You may wonder what the difference is between sudden vision loss and gradual vision loss. Gradual vision loss usually happens over months or years.
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Vision loss can happen because of problems at any point in the visual process. The process involves your eye sending signals to your brain to create images. Issues with your eyes, nerves and brain can all result in sudden vision loss.
Common causes of a sudden loss of vision include:
A provider will typically begin by asking about what happened when you first noticed the loss of vision. They’ll also ask about your medical history and other symptoms you may have, including:
The provider may ask you to have some or all of these tests:
Sudden vision loss is a medical emergency. Call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.
Treatment will depend on what’s causing your vision loss. For instance, your provider may treat you with:
You need fast diagnosis and treatment to have the best chance of getting your vision back.
You may be able to reduce your risk of sudden vision loss if you do certain things to protect your vision, including:
A healthcare provider should always evaluate and treat a sudden loss of vision. If you lose vision suddenly, go to the emergency room immediately.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you suddenly lose your vision, you need to get immediate medical help. This is true if you lose vision in part of your field of vision, in one eye or both eyes. And you need to get help whether you have pain in your eye or not. It’s scary, but the situation can often improve as long as you get medical attention quickly.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/19/2023.
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