Amaurosis fugax history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

History and Symptoms

The experience of amaurosis fugax is classically described as a transient monocular vision loss that appears as a "curtain coming down vertically into the field of vision in one eye;" however, this altitudinal visual loss is relatively uncommon. In one study, only 23.8 percent of patients with transient monocular vision loss experienced the classic "curtain" or "shade" descending over their vision.[1] Other descriptions of this experience include a monocular blindness, dimming, fogging, or blurring.[2] Total or sectorial vision loss typically lasts only a few seconds, but may last minutes or even hours. Duration depends on the etiology of the vision loss. Obscured vision due to papilledema may last only seconds, while a severely atherosclerotic carotid artery may be associated with a duration of one to ten minutes.[3] Certainly, additional symptoms may be present with the amaurosis fugax, and those findings will depend on the etiology of the transient monocular vision loss.


  1. "Beneficial effect of carotid endarterectomy in symptomatic patients with high-grade carotid stenosis." N Engl J Med. 1991 August 15;325(7):445-53. PMID 1852179.
  2. Lord RS. "Transient monocular blindness." Aust N Z J Ophthalmol. 1990 Aug;18(3):299-305. PMID 2261177.
  3. Donders RC. "Clinical features of transient monocular blindness and the likelihood of atherosclerotic lesions of the internal carotid artery." J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2001 Aug;71(2):247-9. PMID 11459904.