Functional vision disorders in adults: a paradigm and nomenclature shift for ophthalmology

Subahari Raviskanthan, Sydney Wendt, Peter M. Ugoh, Peter W. Mortensen, Heather E. Moss, Andrew G. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Vision loss with clinical findings that are incompatible with the symptoms and recognized neurological or ophthalmic conditions is a common presentation of patients to neurologists, ophthalmologists, and neuro-ophthalmologists. The accepted terminology to describe such patients has evolved over time, including functional visual disorder (FVD), non-organic vision loss, non-physiologic vision loss, functional vision loss, psychogenic, psychosomatic, and medically unexplained visual loss. Likewise, attitudes and recommended management options have changed over the years in the fields of psychiatry and neurology. FVD is a diagnosis of inclusion, and it is critical that the diagnosis be made and delivered efficiently and effectively to reduce patient and physician duress. We review the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V) terminology and the prior literature on FVD and describe how the approaches to diagnosis and management have changed. We provide recommendations on the appropriate techniques and diagnostic approach for patients with FVD. We also propose a protocol for consistent and standardized discussion with the patient of the diagnosis of FVD. We believe that the adoption of FVD as both a paradigm and nomenclature shift in ophthalmology will improve patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-18
Number of pages11
JournalSurvey of Ophthalmology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Functional vision disorder
  • functional neurologic disorder
  • functional visual loss
  • medically unexplained vision loss
  • non-organic vision loss
  • psychogenic vision loss
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Vision Disorders/diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Adult
  • Ophthalmology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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