A fixed black spot in your vision is a serious eye condition that requires proper medical attention. You should see your eye doctor immediately when you notice related symptoms. Dealing with this medical challenge varies; sometimes you may not need any treatment (when it’s temporary), and other times you may need medications or other special treatments. So, ensure you consult your ophthalmologist or optometrist for the appropriate action to take.
While everyone desires a clear vision that allows them to see possibilities and opportunities around them, some individuals sometimes experience challenges with their sight ability.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that vision disability falls in the list of the top 10 disabilities experienced by adults (18+) and stands as one of the major disabling conditions children face.
Visual impairment is in different categories. It could be complete blindness, blurred vision (complete or partial field of view), impaired form vision, or a reduced field of vision (blank spots or tunnel vision).
In this article, our focus will mainly be on fixed black spots in vision, and they are different from floaters (another visual disability). You should know that in pathologies, the appearance of a fixed dark spot in the field of vision (scotoma) is not an uncommon symptom that relates to the eyesight challenge.
When this symptom appears, the appropriate step is to consult an ophthalmologist, who is professionally certified to recommend the standard treatment. It would be best to remember that fixed black spots can be a sign of a severe condition that may have critical effects on people’s sight.
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What are these fixed dark spots?
A fixed dark spot can be referred to as a blind spot or technically scotoma (central scotoma and peripheral scotoma). A scotoma, generally, refers to a blind spot in vision.
It usually appears like a blurry or black spot in vision, depending on its severity and size.
Scotomas have different types, which solely depend on appearance and location. This location and appearance in the field of vision will help an ophthalmologist easily determine the underlying cause of the impairment.
In addition, people may experience one or more types of scotomas and have dark spots in one or both eyes. Some case reports show that a scotoma in one eye can be only be detected when you close the other eye.
Types of fixed dark spots (scotoma)
There are two main types of fixed dark spots. These include:
1. Central Scotoma
The central scotoma is a dark spot that stays in the center of the vision (in the line of sight). It is characteristically an overwhelming eye challenge due to how it can make activities such as driving and reading, and recognizing faces impossible or difficult.
Central scotoma is often caused by macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy/ diabetic macular edema. You should note that any eye injury and infections that affect the macula of the retina can also result in a central scotoma.
2. Paracentral or Peripheral Scotoma
A paracentral scotoma is a blurry or dark spot in vision that is slightly off-center (about 10° of the line of sight). A patient with paracentral scotoma may clearly see the words on a road sign but find the spot or area near the sign blurry or dark.
Paracentral scotomas can be caused by diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. For glaucoma, the condition may be arc-shaped (an arcuate scotoma).
In addition, peripheral scotomas can be caused by vascular diseases of the retina ( such as arterial occlusion or venous obstruction) or retinal detachment.
Floaters and dark spots (scintillating scotoma)
A well-known type of scotoma that is different from those discussed under the fixed dark spot is the scintillating scotoma.
A scintillating scotoma is a dark spot that wavers or flickers between dark and light. It’s a condition that is typically not permanent. However, it can indicate an underlying health condition.
Moreover, it’s a type of scotoma that appears as floaters or dark spots in the field of vision. Scintillating scotomas may be accompanied by headache pain or no pain at all.
It can happen during or before a migraine or due to an underlying condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or glaucoma.
Symptoms of a scotoma
You may be prone to scotomas or dark spots if you have conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, high levels of anxiety and stress, and a history of migraines.
The symptoms to watch out for scotoma vary depending on each type of scotoma and its underlying cause. Nonetheless, the following are symptoms that are often involved if you have a scotoma:
- Difficulty reading or seeing specific details (including colors)
- A blind spot (single or multiple)
- Vision loss
- Dots or floaters
- Possible headache
When to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist
You should consult your eye doctor when you begin to experience any visual disturbances. Urgent medical care will be required if you see symptoms or signs such as
- Nausea or dizziness
- Disorientation or confusion
- Numbness in face or limbs
- Extreme headache
- Scotomas after eye or head injury
- Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
How to get rid of a scotoma
Getting rid of a scotoma depends mainly on the cause of the eye condition and the kind of blurry or blind spot you have.
If your condition features migraine headaches, it may be temporary and disappears with no treatment within half an hour or so. But if the visual challenge is caused by stress, high blood pressure, or other more serious conditions, you may need medications or other treatments.
Note: There is yet a professional treatment for some scotomas caused by diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and some neurological conditions. However, if you find yourself in this condition, your doctor may recommend certain low vision aids to manage your vision.
What causes occasional black spots in vision?
Dark spots in the vision can be caused by serious conditions such as retinal detachment, retinal tearing, age-related macular degeneration, and internal eye bleeding. Ensure you visit your eye doctor for treatment when you detect any of these.
Can stress cause black spots in vision?
Stress with deterioration of the vitreous humor (happens as you age) can cause black spots in vision.
Is it normal to have a black dot in your eye?
Vision scientists research and discover that dark dots on the colored part of the eye referred to as iris are common in people who have extremely exposed themselves to sunlight during their lifetime.
How does a black spot affect vision?
A black spot can affect your vision by acting as a curtain or veil covering part of the visual field or making you lose sight of the area covered by the stain.
Healthy eyes offer a healthy brain, which improves the overall quality of life. With good vision, you can engage your athletic ability effectively, enhance learning and comprehension, better your driving skills, etc.
However, fixed black spots in the vision can cause limitations in all these areas. This explains why it’s crucial that you see your eye doctor when experiencing visual disturbances.