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Avatar universal

Seeing Stars

Hi my husband is having concerns about seeing stars, he says after he bends, sneezes, strains, stand up too fast he see's stars.  I'm wondering if this is something to be concerned about, and what could be causing this?.. Thanks so much for your time.

Tara D.
8 Responses
233488 tn?1310693103
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
The retina responds to pressure as well as light. The prototypical example is to close your eyes and GENTLY press on it with the tip of your finger and move it around. You will see a round beam of light across from you finger (like pointing a flashlight).  When you cough, sneeze or strain you can create enough pressure to trigger the firing of retina cells.

When you stand up quickly you can also decrease the blood flow to the brain enough to cause the vision to black out act "weird" for a few moments. This is called orthostatic hypotension.

If you hit hard enough on the head you can "see starts" due to the shock wave to the brain causing a calcophany of electrons in the brain. This often accompanies concussions.

Nancy T:   Please note that visual dimming with turning the head far to the left or right can, in some cases, indicate occlusive carotid disease (the main arteries in the neck). If you vision gets dim or blacks out with looking far to the right and far to the left you should see an ophthalmologist, (eye MD) and discuss it with your family physician. You may need some special tests including a carotid doppler.

Don't want to unnecessarily alarm you but I've seen several people with high grade blockage of the carotids that had this very complaint or observation.

JCH III MD  Eye Physician and Surgeon
152264 tn?1280354657
Bending, sneezing, and straining increases the pressure in your head (intracranial pressure, I think it's called), although I don't know how that makes a person see stars. When I cough while bent over, I see some kind of momentary half-circles in my vision.

I see stars when I've been holding my head sharply turned sideways/down for a few seconds, such as when shaving under my arms (not that I can SEE what I'm doing anyway, but I still look!). I think it's a result of the mechanical strain of holding the eyes in an extreme sideways position. The "stars" are like numerous little fireflies, weaving in toward the center of my vision from all around for 10 or 15 seconds.

I'll be interested to hear the doctor's reply to your question.

Nancy T.
152264 tn?1280354657
Dr. Hagen: Thanks for the warning. My vision doesn't go black or dim at all--I just see stars.

Long ago, when this came up on a dizziness forum, someone said the same thing will happen (due to retinal stimulation?) from holding your eyes far to one side (while keeping your head in normal position). I tried it at that time, and indeed I did see the same stars. However, I can't repeat that experiment anymore--it makes me very dizzy and my eye muscles too strained.

However, I probably should have my doctor take a listen to the arteries, as for a year now I've heard a sometimes quite loud clicking noise in time to my pulse when lying on my back at night, and last night I woke up from a scary dream to a distinct pulse-linked whooshing in my ears, something I've never heard before. (No doubt my blood pressure was up.)

Thanks for all the good info you provide here!
Nancy T.

152264 tn?1280354657
So sorry I misspelled your name--inexcusable for a copyeditor.
233488 tn?1310693103
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hello Nancy T   Thank you for your helpful participation in the Eye Care Forums. I am an Editor also of a medical journal (Missouri Medicine-chosen the best written journal in Missouri in 2007-by Professors at the U of Missouri School of Journalism).  BUT I simply cannot spell and this website software does not have "spellcheck" so I apologize to all the readers for the misspellings that crop up far too often.

Dr. John C. Hagan III MD
152264 tn?1280354657
Congratulations on the journalism award! That's VERY impressive!

I realized long ago that some of the smartest people I know are terrible spellers and make all kinds of trivial mistakes--including some brilliant professors whose books I've edited. The brain has many very specific abilities that vary greatly among individuals, and I believe that being a good speller is one of them; it seems entirely unrelated to intellectual ability. I am brilliant with spelling, excellent at diagnosing and treating sentences, and sharp at spotting inconsistencies. But analytical ability? Uh, not so great.

I copyedit social science and humanities books for university presses, but I was sort of pulled into editing a few medical articles a while back and found it--well, a whole different world! (Not so much fun.)

I usually don't bother editing my own posts too much; I think being a little lazy in material not for publication is fine. People are just looking for information here--and we are VERY grateful to medical professionals who take time to answer questions, dispel myths, and point people in the right direction when, for whatever reason, that doesn't happen with your personal doctor(s). Lives are changed.

Nancy T.
Avatar universal
Ok so i'm not sure of the answer you gave, is this something we should have checked out? I find the answer you gave was more focused on Nancy.
233488 tn?1310693103
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
This was meant for you and your husband:

The retina responds to pressure as well as light. The prototypical example is to close your eyes and GENTLY press on it with the tip of your finger and move it around. You will see a round beam of light across from you finger (like pointing a flashlight).  When you cough, sneeze or strain you can create enough pressure to trigger the firing of retina cells.

When you stand up quickly you can also decrease the blood flow to the brain enough to cause the vision to black out act "weird" for a few moments. This is called orthostatic hypotension.

If you hit hard enough on the head you can "see starts" due to the shock wave to the brain causing a calcophany of electrons in the brain. This often accompanies concussions.

JCH III MD
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