About Vision Loss from Back Surgery What does having back surgery have to do with vision loss? According to neurosurgeons who perform spine surgery, one of the risks of spine surgery is post operative vision loss (POVL). When operating on the spine, a rare but potentially devastating complication of lumbar spine surgery is indeed POVL, of three types that seems to be increasing in frequency. These include one type called ischemic optic neuropathy (ION) which occurs due to restricted blood flow to the optic nerve, another is called central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) which is due to a blockage in the main artery that supplies the retina with oxygen and nutrients and third is called cortical blindness (CB) most likely due to some blockage in the visual cortex of the brain that is responsible for “seeing.” These complications are quite rare but the risks can occur when there are very long operation times, in patients who have a difficult time being positioned on the operating table and especially in those that are obese. Neurosurgeons take many preoperative and intraoperative precautions to avoid these complications which, except for an unusual event, are successful in avoiding vision loss.
However, if you or someone you know is having or has had back or spine surgery, please be aware that any change in your vision should immediately be reported to your neurosurgeon and you eye doctor so as to prevent vision loss. If you would like more information or have concerns please call Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020, visit Eyecare Medical Group, Google+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup to schedule an appointment.