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Nonorganic Vision Loss?

In a 2008 study, almost half of patients with nonorganic visual loss wore sunglasses inside the eye clinic.  From

During the study period, 59 patients were diagnosed with NOVL (nonorganic visual loss), among whom 27 (45.8%) wore sunglasses. The sensitivity of wearing sunglasses for NOVL was 0.46 (95% CI 0.33 to 0.59). The probability that a patient walking into our clinic had NOVL was 0.043 (95% CI 0.033 to 0.055); it increased to 0.79 (95% CI 0.62 to 0.91) in sunglasses patients. The specificity of sunglasses for the diagnosis of NOVL was 0.995 (95% CI 0.989 to 0.998). At least one of the following characteristics (highly positive review of systems, workers’ compensation claim, disability, and lawsuit) was found in 26 of 27 (96.3%) of NOVL patients wearing sunglasses and in none of the sunglasses patients with organic neuro-ophthalmic disorders. All 7 sunglasses patients with organic neuro-ophthalmic disorders had reasonable ophthalmic explanations for wearing sunglasses.


The “sunglasses sign” in a patient without an obvious ophthalmic reason to wear sunglasses is highly suggestive of nonorganic visual loss.