If you experience a blind spot in your vision, you might have what’s called a scotoma. Learn more about this condition and whether or not it’s serious.
A scotoma is a blind spot or partial loss of vision in what is otherwise a perfectly normal visual field. It might look like a dark, fuzzy, or blurry spot, or it might look like a single spot of flickering light or arcs of light. Some other symptoms of scotoma include trouble seeing certain colors or feeling as though you can’t see clearly in dim light.
Usually a scotoma isn’t serious, but it can be a sign of a bigger problem with your vision or your health.
What causes a blind spot?
Everyone has a normal blind spot that’s about as big as a pinhead. In this spot, the optic nerve passes through the retina, where there are no photoreceptors there to detect light. No light-detecting cells means the eye can’t send signals to the brain.
This kind of blind spot is nothing to worry about and we usually don’t even notice it because our brains are so good at filling in the blanks and providing the visual information we need.
A scotoma, on the other hand, is noticeable and can disturb our normal routines and make everyday activities, like driving and reading, difficult.
So what causes these abnormal blind spots? A scotoma can be develop as a result of a number of different, even serious, conditions:
- Retinal detachmen
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular degeneration
- High blood pressure
- Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Head injury
- Brain tumor
- Inflammation of or damage to the optic nerve
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Some temporary scotomas can be caused by less serious health circumstances, such as hormonal changes, stress, or migraine, or even low blood flow to the brain.
Can a scotoma be treated?
Temporary scotomas, such as those caused by a migraine, usually don’t need to be treated.
Permanent or fixed scomtomas aren’t able to be corrected with glasses or surgery, but often treating the underlying cause (such as high blood pressure) can prevent new blind spots from forming.
To help support your decreased vision, your eye doctor will recommend certain aids and lifestyle adjustments: Using a magnifying glass when reading, using the large-type setting on your phone or tablet; adding filters to computer screens to reduce glare; using machines or apps that will read printed material aloud to you; and so on.
Do you have a blind spot in your field of vision that is impacting your daily life? Contact us to set up an appointment with an eye doctor to have it checked out today.