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June 1965

Unexplained Blindness and Optic Atrophy Following Retinal Detachment Surgery

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Clinical Eye Research, Institute of Biological and Medical Sciences, Retina Foundation; Department of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Special Trainee, Wilmer Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Research Fellow of Retina Foundation (Dr. Jarrett).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1965;73(6):782-791. doi:10.1001/archopht.1965.00970030784006

The goal of retinal detachment surgery is the anatomic reattachment of the retina to the choroid. If this is accomplished, one may expect some improvement in the visual acuity and partial restoration of the visual fields. When retinal breaks without detachment are treated prophylactically, or when the detachment has not involved the macula, the central visual acuity is usually preserved by successful surgery.

It is a matter of concern, therefore, that 11 cases (of approximately 2,000 eyes recently operated upon) have been encountered in which anatomically successful retinal detachment surgery has been followed by drastic reduction or total loss of vision and the subsequent development of optic atrophy in the eye which has been operated upon. In all of these cases the retina was reattached after operation, and at no time were there signs of papillitis, retinal edema, or occlusion of a retinal vessel to account for the diminished vision.

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