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November 1938


Arch Ophthalmol. 1938;20(5):797-803. doi:10.1001/archopht.1938.00850230103007

Six cases of total but temporary blindness associated with acute poisoning due to ethyl alcohol have been observed by us during the past two years. Five of these were seen in the wards of the medical service of the psychiatric division of the Bellevue Hospital during the year ending Dec. 31, 1937. The history was that during or soon after the ingestion of alcoholic liquor the patient suddenly became blind. By the time these patients reached us, usually within a few hours, examination revealed total blindness in both eyes, normal pupillary reactions to light and convergence (as in the amaurosis associated with uremia) and normal fundi. Complete recovery, as a rule, followed within twenty-four hours; in 1 case, however, improvement was more gradual.

We believe that this condition develops with sufficient frequency to merit consideration whenever sudden blindness occurs in association with alcoholism. We are, therefore, presenting the findings in