What Causes Blurry Vision After Spine Surgery?

Blurry vision or loss of vision can occur after spinal surgery for a number of reasons, including external ocular injury, cortical blindness, retinal ischemia, lumbar ION and acute glaucoma, which can be associated with the use of anesthetics or other issues, like improper positioning of the patient during surgery. It may be difficult to detect issues with vision immediately after surgery because anesthetics can hinder vision and mask other longer-lasting issues of postoperative vision loss.

Patients can experience external ocular injuries, evident as trauma to the cornea, when irritation, abrasion or laceration has occurred to the cornea. Inflammation and infection, as well as pain and other eye issues, are common symptoms of external ocular injuries.

While the greater symptoms of cortical blindness, such as general loss of vision, may be restored after some time has passed, the sufferer will often still experience difficulty in sensing spatial relationships and judging differences in sizes and distances.

Retinal ischemia often occurs after surgery due to the patient being improperly positioned, thereby allowing external compression on the eye and resulting in decreased blood flow to the retina and lack of proper venous drainage.

Lumbar ischemic optic neuropathy (LION) is a common symptom in patients over the age of 50, but it can occur in younger patients as well. Blood loss, anemia, cerebral spinal fluid in the optic nerve, the use of vasopressors and several other factors can play a role in causing ION, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Acute glaucoma is often marked by a painful red eye, blurry vision, headache, nausea and vomiting.