Bilateral visual loss after blepharoplasty

Ann Plast Surg. 1980 Oct;5(4):288-92. doi: 10.1097/00000637-198010000-00007.


Blindness following blepharoplasty is a well-documented complication. Removal of orbital fat is common to most cases in which such blindness occurs. We present a patient who was referred to us following blepharoplasty involving orbital fat removal in all four lids with subsequent onset of bilateral visual loss. Visual acuity in the right eye has remained no light perception and in the left eye improved from 20/400 to 20/20 following bilateral orbital decompression. An electroretinogram was within normal limits in both eyes. A normal response from the visual evoked response in the left eye and an abnormal response from the visual evoked response in the right eye indicate ganglion cell damage or visual pathway disruption in the right eye, probably secondary to optic nerve ischemia. We conclude that the small nutrient vessels to the optic nerve are more easily compromised than the central retinal artery and are responsible for the visual loss in many of these cases. We believe this to be the first documented case of bilateral visual loss following blepharoplasty and the first electrophysiological study demonstrating the pathophysiology of blindness following blepharoplasty. We advocate rapid orbital decompression to treat this catastrophic complication.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / etiology*
  • Blindness / physiopathology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Eyelids / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orbit / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Surgery, Plastic* / methods