Epileptic blindness in children: A localizing sign of various epileptic disorders

Eli Shahar*, Howard Desatnik, Natan Brand, Rachel Straussberg, Paul A. Hwang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The ictal manifestations, EEG, CT, and MRI correlates, as well as the management and outcome of 11 children with epileptic blindness are presented. Seven males and four females, aged 3 months to 12 years, experienced single or recurrent episodes of acute visual obscuration. Ictal blindness was the solitary epileptic phenomenon in only two children. The rest had other focal or generalized motor epileptic manifestations. Six children had either focal motor phenomena and/or unilateral EEG disturbances, with a normal head CT. The drug of choice in this group was carbamazepine and all became asymptomatic. Two patients had structural abnormalities of the brain, of which one had a low-grade occipital astrocytoma which was resected. His blindness abated shortly following initiation of carbamazepine, even prior to surgery. Status epilepticus amauroticus and focal motor seizures, secondary to focal cortical dysplasia, was detected in another 3-month-old infant. These required cortical resection and she regained full vision. Three patients had generalized epileptiform discharges on EEG, of which two were photic-induced. Blindness was accompanied with motor seizures and myoclonic jerks. Full seizure control could be achieved in only one child. Conclusion: our data suggest a relatively benign nature and a favorable outcome in most children with ictal blindness. Resection of a secondary temporo-parietal focus, as occurred in an infant with status epilepticus amauroticus which originated in the occipital region, may result in complete cessation of seizures and visual recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-241
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • CT
  • EEG
  • Epileptic blindness
  • Ictal blindness
  • MRI


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