Transient blindness after lumbar epidural steroid injection: a case report and literature review

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Nov 1;27(21):E476-7. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200211010-00022.


Study design: A case report of transient blindness after lumbar epidural steroids is presented.

Objective: To report the diagnosis and treatment of a case of blindness after administration of lumbar epidural steroids.

Summary of background data: Nine previous cases of blindness after lumbar epidural injection for back pain were identified. Retinal hemorrhages were identified on ophthalmologic examination in all cases.

Methods: The 1-year follow up evaluation of a 39-year-old male who sustained transient blindness after administration of lumbar epidural steroids is reported.

Results: At 1 year, the patient had significant return of vision, but it did not improve back to baseline.

Conclusions: Transient blindness is a rare complication of lumbar epidural injection. The pathophysiology and prevention of this rare entity is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Epidural / adverse effects*
  • Back Pain / drug therapy
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Blindness / chemically induced*
  • Blindness / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / drug therapy*
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / adverse effects*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Steroids / administration & dosage
  • Steroids / adverse effects*


  • Steroids
  • Methylprednisolone