Blindness from Dermal Fillers

How common is blindness from Dermal Fillers?

Blindness is a rare side effect of autologous fat and dermal filler injections.

Why does blindness occur after Fillers?

Sudden vision loss after filler or fat injections occurs when the product occludes the retinal artery supplying the blood supply to the retina at the back of the eye. This occlusion leads to permanent blindness.

For this to occur, the product injected unintentionally gets into a small blood vessel on the face, which connects to the retinal artery. Unfortunately, the product can then find its way into the eye’s artery and block its blood supply.

Which Filler treatments can cause blindness?

The FDA has reported blindness is more likely to occur if the area treated is between the eyebrows and nose (glabella), in and around the nose, forehead, and around the eyes (periorbital region).

How many cases of blindness have there been?

A US study led by Vancouver-based dermatologist Dr Kate Beleznay reviewed the literature of visual complications up to January 2015.

There were 98 cases, areas treated included the glabella (38.8%), nasal region (25.5%), nasolabial fold (13.3%), and forehead (12.2%).

The most likely filler to cause visual complications is autologous fat (47.9% of reported cases), followed by hyaluronic acid (23.5% of cases; this is the product most widely used).

The study showed patients experienced sudden visual loss (blindness) and pain. Most cases did NOT recover and the CNS was involved in a quarter of the cases.

No treatment to treat blindness was effective.

Dr Beleznay said, “Although the risk is very low, we believe that prevention begins with education and the ability to recognise potentially grave adverse events.”

When does Blindness occur after Fillers?

Blindness usually occurs just a few seconds after a dermal filler injection. There have been reports of symptoms developing within a few hours of treatment and rarely occurring up to 24 hours later. Someone is unlikely to develop symptoms more than 24 hours after the filler injections.

How do I reduce the risk of Blindness?

Ensure you have your treatment with a highly trained and experienced medical practitioner. Make sure your practitioner has extensive training in facial anatomy and the management of dermal filler complications.

The following steps may reduce the risk of complications:

  • Aspirating the needle/cannula before injecting can be a reliable way to see if the product is near a blood vessel before injecting.
  • Using a cannula to perform treatments 
  • Injecting the product very slowly in small amounts

View an interesting article from The Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology with more clinical information here. 

Find out more about Dermal Filler Treatments