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Scary flash sensation
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Scary flash sensation

For about 3 months, I've noticed a weird sensation in my left eye: Sometimes--especially if I am bending over, moving my head quickly, talking animatedly, etc.--I see a flash/swirl/sensation of light, usually in my peripheral vision. It happens sometimes when blinking, too, and really is only in the left eye. It lasts for 2 seconds at most, and occurs maybe a few times/day. My left eye is slightly larger than the right (congenital) and also very nearsighted (I wear -6.00 for contacts in that eye). This is terrifying me because I have a phobia about blindness. I have seen an opthamalogist twice, and had full dilation, and they inspected my optic nerve and tested for visual field and glaucoma in addition to looking at my retina.
I did have an isolated ocular migraine incident in May, after which I saw a neurologist and an opthamalogist, had an MRI, bloodwork, and eye exams. Everything was negative, although I do currently have a sinus infection (I had a CT scan of my sinuses two days ago which confirmed it, and I am starting antibiotics today).

This sensation is driving me crazy now--the anxiety is really affecting me. I am terrified that something is really wrong with me eye and no one has found it.
Could this be the result of pressure phosphenes? I feel like I can recreate the same sensation if I close my eyes and touch them. Could it be from vitreous detachment? Is that a bad sign if I am having vitreous detachment at my age (25 yo female)? And could it just be a result of my infected sinuses (my eyes are generally puffy). I have allergy problems and am congested a lot. Or could this be from anxiety? I'm been having anxiety attacks for the past 3 months, in part because of my fears about my eye.

Any advice? I would be so grateful.
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233488_tn?1310696703
Hello HFH   Given your previous work-ups it's unlikely this is anything that would lead to blindness. Your problem could be pressure phosphenes from the eye muscles tugging on the sclera or it could be some minor vitreous traction. It's not likely due to sinue. Posterior vitreous detachments (PVD) in a 25 year old as myopic as you are very common and not abnormal.

Anxiety can cause any symptoms--even nornal body noise--to be much worse and even cause symptoms itself. If you have not done so you might consider seeing a psychiatrist to help you deal with your anxiety and unfounded fears.

If something changes dramatically in your eyes reconsult your ophthalmolist.

JCH III MD Eye Physician & Surgeon
7 Comments
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Thank you so much for responding. I have a history of anxiety problems (which I've sought treatment for) and suspected that my obsession with this symptom/blindness is probably more a function of anxiety than anything else--but that didn't make it any less scary. I should probably start thinking about seeing someone for that again (I'm clearly not managing it very well on my own right now!) You really do people a service by responding and reassuring them, thanks.
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233488_tn?1310696703
Hello HFH   There is a history of anxiety problems in my family and I've seen how much help can be given from cognitive therapy, biblio-therapy, anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications and a good relationship with a psychiatrist. Based on everything I've seen in my professional and personal life you can expect a very good chance of dramatic improvement in your symptoms and quality of life.

Good luck, good health and good eyesight to you.

JCH III MD
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My flash sensation has improved lately, as have my couple of floaters (which were worrying me as well), although I still notice both. I think I was just too observant of the phenomenon. Also, talking to a therapist is helping me deal with my eye fears.

My -6.00 eye worries me though--is my vision going to keep getting worse? My prescription has changed every year or so over the past few--but I was in college, then grad school, and I work on a computer all day for my job. Shouldn't my vision stabilize at some point? -6.00 seems extremely myopic and that scares me. Is there anything I can do to lessen my risk for a retinal detachment?

Thanks
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233488_tn?1310696703
It's not likely to change much in coming years. Next big change is usually early 40's and needing bifocals.  Look at some of the posts in the two eye forums--lots of people with myopia greater than -7.00 dopters.

Reduce the risk of RD by yearly eye exam by Eye MD physician (ophthalmologist), wear eye protection for contact sports and high eye hazzard activities, don't go on roller coasters and rides that put the head/eye under severe and rapidly changing gravitational loads.

JCH III MD
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your advice! I especially appreciate the instruction to avoid roller coasters--I hate them. Now I have an excuse. :)
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233488_tn?1310696703
Me too. I have lattice and retinoschisis (splitting of the retina). I've long used this as an excuse to avoid "thrill" rides. One time my daughter asked "If you take me down Space Mountain just one time will you go blind?"   Fortunately there was an Uncle with us that was fearless and didn't have thin retinas.

JCH III MD
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