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Eye and Vision Care

Black spots

08/17/2006

Question:

I have been seeing a permanent, non-moving, black spot in my right eye for over two years now, and I have just recently begun to see a similar spot in my left eye. Neither go away. I have been to an eye specialist for the spot in the right eye. My doctor did a dilation test, light test, pressure test, etc. and found nothing to explain away this black spot. I was also in the hospital recently because I thought I was having a stroke, and the neurologist did several test for a total of three days and found nothing. They have done CAT scans, MRIs, Brain Wave scans, blood tests, etc and have found nothing. I am at my wits end at this point because noone believes me when I tell them I am seeing black spots and I have no explaination for why I am seeing them.

Here is some information about me: I used to be a computer network specialist for several years and stopped doing that to do a sedentary job in transportation. I gained 20 pounds since then, and I do not smoke or drink. I am 36 year old female and I have been married for five years. I still use the computer to do research and stare at the screen for hours. I have no problems with blood pressure and my heart rate stays at around 48-58. Oh, I have had breast augmentation and have had Rhinoplasty to correct a deviated septum.

I really hope that someone can help me and point me to someone that can possibly help me. I am so scared that I am going to go blind.

Answer:

Black, non-moving spots in the vision can result from a number of things. These include (but are not limited to) cataract, floaters in the vitreous, a retinal problem, a vascular event, or a migraine headache. Eye doctors check for many of these things during an eye examination. 
 
A cataract that produces symptoms like black spots will generally be seen by the doctor during an eye examination.
 
Floaters in the vitreous can occasionally be more difficult for the doctor to visualize. Floaters are generally seen to move around as the eye moves.
 
Retinal problems such as scars or broken blood vessels can usually be seen by the eye doctor, but can be very deep in the tissues and therefore may require more advanced diagnostic procedures to detect (for example, fluorescein angiogram or optical coherence tomography).
 
 Vascular events (sometimes called transient ischemic attacks) can be brief blockages of blood vessels, followed by reopening of these vessels. In that case, the affect on the vision would be short. If a person has such an event, then a physician should examine the patient's vascular system as it appears you have had done.
 
Finally, a migraine headache (if it only affects the eye, it is called an ophthalmic migraine) would only have a short-term affect on vision.
 
While it is not possible for me to say what is causing your symptoms, given all of this information and your description of your black spots, it seems that some possibilities include floaters or a very subtle retinal problem. These things may require the equipment mentioned in the previous paragraph for evaluation.
 
In evaluating the long-term prognosis of such things, one looks at the stability of the symptoms. Sudden changes (for example, a sudden increase in the size or number of spots) indicate a progressive problem.    

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Response by:

Nicklaus   Fogt, OD, PhD Nicklaus Fogt, OD, PhD
Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University