Blindness

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What specialists treat blindness?

Ophthalmology is the specialty of medicine that deals with diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye disease. Therefore, ophthalmologists are the specialists who have the knowledge and tools to diagnose the cause of blindness and to provide treatment, if possible.

How do health-care professionals diagnose blindness?

Blindness is diagnosed by testing each eye individually and by measuring the visual acuity and the visual field, or peripheral vision. People may have blindness in one (unilateral blindness) or both eyes (bilateral blindness). Historical information regarding the blindness can be helpful in diagnosing the cause of blindness. Poor vision that is sudden in onset differs in potential causes than blindness that is progressive or chronic. Temporary blindness differs in cause from permanent blindness. The cause of blindness is made by a thorough examination by an ophthalmologist.

What are treatments for blindness?

The treatment of visual impairment or blindness depends on the cause. In third-world nations where many people have poor vision as a result of a refractive error, merely prescribing and giving glasses will alleviate the problem. Nutritional causes of blindness can be addressed by dietary changes. There are millions of people in the world who are blind from cataracts. In these patients, cataract surgery would, in most cases, restore their sight. Inflammatory and infectious causes of blindness can be treated with medication in the form of drops or pills. Corneal transplantation may help people whose vision is absent as a result of corneal scarring.

What is the prognosis for blindness?

The prognosis for blindness is dependent on its cause. In patients with blindness due to optic-nerve damage or a completed stroke, visual acuity can usually not be restored. Patients with long-standing retinal detachment in general cannot be improved with surgical repair of their detachment. Patients who have corneal scarring or cataract usually have a good prognosis if they are able to access surgical care of their condition.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/18/2016

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