Functional visual loss

Kenneth S. Shindler*, Steven L. Galetta, Nicholas J. Volpe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Patients who present with visual loss that cannot be explained by organic lesions represent a wide spectrum of patients from those with no physiologic problem to those patients who have a true underlying condition. Regardless of where a patient falls within this spectrum, all patients need to be approached with a clinical evaluation to ensure that no underlying physiologic deficit exists. After excluding organic causes with appropriate examination and testing, a patient's visual loss still should not be labeled sa functional until it is proven that they can see better than they claim to see. Only after convincingly demonstrating better vision can the physician begin to consider treatment options to help the patient's vision recover. Although functional vision loss places the physician in an unusual adversarial position of refuting a patient's symptoms, exposing the patient in a confrontational manner rarely helps. Instead, an approach that allows patients to resolve the symptoms on their own through reassurance and support often leads to successful restoration of vision. Reassurance that their condition is not serious, and may recover with time, allows patients to slowly admit their vision is improving without ever suggesting that the concern and medical attention they sought was unwarranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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