University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Terson syndrome: an underrecognized cause of reversible vision loss in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage


Middleton K, Esselman P, Lim PC



Publication Info:

Am J Phys Med Rehabil, 91(3):271-274


Terson syndrome is a known complication of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) that causes potentially reversible vision loss. It develops after SAH because of vitreous hemorrhage caused by retinal capillary disruption. Case series report an incidence of Terson syndrome in approximately 8%-15% of patients with SAH. Nonetheless, the medical literature regarding this condition is primarily found within neurosurgical and ophthalmologic journals with little mention within the rehabilitation medicine literature. Physiatrists must be aware of this clinical presentation to coordinate the care of patients with SAH who develop vision loss and develop a rehabilitation plan that addresses the co-morbid motor, sensory, and cognitive impairments. Physiatrists may be the first to identify visual loss, are well equipped to emphasize compensatory strategies, and are well positioned to coordinate surgical treatment for visual recovery in appropriate cases. In this report, we describe the case of a young woman with SAH and Terson syndrome through her acute hospital admission, rehabilitation treatment, ophthalmologic management, and outcome, describing the salient epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnostic workup, and treatment options.

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