Avatar universal

Tunnel vision feeling while driving

Every so often while driving on motorways I get a weird sensation that can cause me to pull over as my sight is affected and I feel as though I could be a danger to others.  Generally it happens on a straight section that is fairly fast moving and not too busy, the fast moving white lines and crash barriers seem to put me into an almost hypnotic trance feeling and I start to feel as though I am in a 1980's computer game and that I am sitting still and everything is rushing towards me, the only way to describe it is that it's like being in spaceraiders where the stars (while dots on a realy old screen) are buzzing towards you. Often I can sense it's going to happen and by looking around I can stop it, but if not I lose sense of speed, I am in 100% control of the car though.  Weirdly it happens less when I'm driving alone, i think because I'm more nervous with a passenger  

I am 33 years old who and I have Hyperprolactinaemia which is controlled with Carbogoline, I know my levels are normal (was checked 2 months ago) but I have not had an MRI for 2 years so have to assume there is not associated tumour.

I have mentioned it to my optician, but she looked at me as though I was mad and didn't understand, so I'd like to know if anyone out there has had something similar and can offer advise

53 Responses
Avatar universal
I know exactly how you feel...like a car scene in a movie where the background is changing, but the vehicle is not moving.  I feel like I'm stationary and somebody is pulling the foreground past me in a very fluid manner.  Highways are the worst, especially sweeping curves, but stop & go traffic is also a really BAD trigger.  Like I cannot perceive my bearings to determine if it is me or my surrounding that are moving.

I also have difficulty reading/focusing while standing.  Cannot look at a bulletin baord posting at work for more than 10 seconds w/o feeling like I'm going to tip over.  Vending machines are the same way except that I feel like I'm on a skateboard and someone is gently pulling me away from the machine - all the while I maintain focus.

Unfortunately, I have lived like this for 13 yrs now and have had every test imaginable at some of the best hosptials in the US and still no correct diagnosis.  Been told Meinere's, MAV, cluster headaches, atypical migraine, vestibular neuritis, severe TMD, sleep apnea...the lis tgoes on.  Balance testing reveals normal function, yet I often feel like vomiting from the nausea I feel due to dizziness.

I had my eyes checked last year and discovered that I had a lot of problems with both eyes working in sync.  Been going to vision therapy for past 4 months and seems to help some, but still have the floating/gliding feeling 24/7/365.  I just try to stay busy and work through things as dwelling about them left me really depressed and I swore I'd never go down that road again.
Any answers yet?
All interesting as this is classified under neurology. I just recently started experiencing this exact feeling as described: I am stationary and the foreground is moving past me in a very fluid manner...precisely what I am feeling. I have felt nauseous lately. I am 48 and experiencing perimenopause so I thought it was just that...then I see men are feeling this too. I have also been having back pain and went through the whole X-ray, physical therapy thing. It was then recommended that I get an MRI where they found a "synovial cyst" in my spine pushing up against my nerve which was causing my sciatica pain. Wonder if this is all tied in somehow. I am scared as hell as I am going to see a neurosurgeon about getting the cyst removed. I just wonder if this pressure it is putting on my nerve is causing not only the pain/sciatica, but also this nauseous and motion like sickness I have been experiencing lately. Figured I should post my experience in case anyone may be going through the same agony.
Avatar universal
Your not the only one. Knowing that might help a little. I have a friend I knew for years and I just found out recently he gets it too! Sometimes just talking about it helps. It happens to me everyday. Its hard to stay on freeways especially when traffic hits. Been to the hospital a whole lot when it first started 6 years ago and had no answers. I dont know what triggered it to start happening or how to get it to stop. I just try to keep my mind off it but it sometimes its hard to. Most times I have panic attacks on freeways because of it and I start sweating and my heart pounds fast and all i think about is that im going to live like this forever. It affects my mood and my outlook on life and the only thing that helps me right now is trying to stay positive about everything. For example. When im driving and it starts just a little bit. I tell myself that it will pass and im ok. I also look at freeway signs so I know im moving forward and not staying still and everything is is coming towards me. Sometimes I just focus on breathing. Hope this helps a little. I gonna give hospitals another shot and ill keep you guys updated. Please email me.
Avatar universal
Just wondering. When it first happened were you dehydrated or drinking the day before? And what kind of foods do you eat? Do you eat alot of sugars? Just wondering.
Avatar universal
Yeah it started for me about a year and a half ago.  Mine is especially scary when on long hills.  I lose the sense of whether I'm going up or downhill, and I would feel like I'm going to veer off and fall off the mountain, so to speak.  Being tired and using some OTC cold medications that have ephedra or similar compounds made it worse.  I thought maybe I was suffering from some kind of neurotoxin poisoning but I don't really know how to prove that.  Now I combat it by looking at the horizon while driving, sometimes chewing raw ginger, and I also do neck stretches while driving.  This situation by necessity makes me a much more aware driver, but it is a downer because I used to be so automatic with driving... Positive thinking helps, and not dwelling on the past occurrences of it.  I've even had success visualizing myself as being bigger than the car so that the whole scene gets smaller.  I've actually felt normal after doing this combination of approaches.
find any answers?
Avatar universal
I believe I share the same condition as all of you. I have had it for around 4 years now, and either my condition has weakened or I've been successful in over-coming it (minimizing it to a great extent). I would like to share my personal battle with it and hope you guys can find something of value in it.

My symptoms I suppose are much like tunnel vision. They tend to appear on narrow roads and highways. Objects in my peripherals begin skipping and gradually closing in on me as I move towards them.  Trees, road signs, and highway barriers mostly. Usually if I'm by myself I begin to panic - less now than before - because I've realized panicking only makes it worse. I would also blink a lot, roll down my window, as well as slapping myself  and talk ing out loud to myself to try to instill some confidence within me.

My mother has a severe case of ADHD. She literally works from sun up to sun down. Me? A moderate case of it but not bad enough that I need to take amphetamines everyday to be normal - so I don't bc it's not worth the risks involved with pro-longed amphetamine usage. Anyways, my mother doesn't take all of hers either and she would give some to me for certain things like finals weeks in college, and for long drives bc ADHD sufferers tend to get very tired on long drives bc of a decrease in stimuli around and bc they are forced to sit still - so my mom being a typically mom would always worry about this for me bc she first hand experiences from it and that's how I found out that it cured my tunnel vision.

I'm not sure why this is, but I'll share some of my thoughts. My episodes tend to occur when my brain is less than 100% there. For example, after a long day at work, after a heavy night of drinking, or if I'm stoned. Being stoned is the worse. I literally can't drive if I'm high, and can barely ride in the passenger seat bc my tunnel vision gets so bad.  If I take an adderoll it boosts my awareness, as well as my confidence in myself.... It's hard to explain but I've literally taken one while being in an episode and felt the drug gradually start to kick and the tunnel vision disappear with it, and once it's gone I can't even get myself to have even if I try. It's like my brain is able to take everything in now. It's sad that my brain needs this but it's better than living in fear.

I can't give you any scientific backings to prove this, all I can say is that it worked for me and I think it's definitely something worth investing for yourself.  Now, I won't do any long drive without it. I don't take it every day, like I said, bc I feel like I can overpower it on short drives. I just make sure to stay calm, and focus on objects a lot further down the road, or if that doesn't work continually shift my focus from one thing to the next.

Hope this helps someone out there. Just remember - keep calm, and carry on - and you'll be just fine. And if not, you might try taking adderoll bc it helped me.

find any answer yet?
1438750 tn?1302819443
Hi, have you all found an answer to your problem?? I have this as of recently and it's affecting my life, my job, my state of mind.
skimordiegirl (at) gmail (dot) com
Avatar universal
I need answers. Where is the doctor with an answer?
Avatar universal
So thankful to find others with this very bizarre thing! I have suffered for 10 years with it and totally gave up on driving the interstate and freeways. It negatively affects my life and I need answers! I just landed a great job that will require me to get back on the freeways and Im horrified!! I have come to the conclusion that Im going to have to keep my brain stimulated somehow to make it through these drives! I want this job!!!!
Avatar universal
Has anyone had any lucky figuring out what this is? I just got a car for the first time in 13 years (I'm 29) and this is happening to me as well. It seems to be mostly at night - it started with snow that really messed with my vision - made me feel like the car was stationary and I literally had to look at the speedometer to make sure I was still moving.  That was two weeks ago. Then tonight there was snow coming at me and it did look like that spaceraiders game and I was having huge issues - I specifically told my friend in the passenger seat "It feels like I'm in a video game or on a treadmill. Don't you see it?" I thought it was just related to snow but even after the snow stopped and the roads were clear I kept having the same sensation. Has not happened during the day yet (thank goodness!!)
Any answer to what it is? You still go through this trance?
Avatar universal
Hi Everyone on this thread,

I found this page by googling tunnel vision and optical illusion while driving. I started to have this experience myself in January 2013 (this year) after driving for over 18 years!

It occurred after 2.5 years where I was living overseas and did not drive very regularly, also during that time I was in front of a computer at work 12+ hours per day.

It really disturbed me and I did a self diagnosis that it was something to do with an optical illusion that was tricking my brain into seeing something in a strange and unsafe way. I was wearing standard prescription glasses at the time though they were 5 years old but my eyes had not deteriorated to my knowledge. In other words, I could still use them to watch a film etc.

However, as I was experiencing this effect while driving even while wearing the glasses I decided to speak to a doctor that is a family friend.

As to be somewhat expected the doctor wasn't really up to giving me a full diagnosis but he did refer me to a Specialist Optometrist.

This Optometrist was amazing! He is a pioneer in his field of what is known as 'Multi-Prismatic Lenses' that means that the lens in your glasses has multiple focal points. Unlike standard glasses that most people get from the big chain optometrists, those lenses usually have 1 focal point and therefore your prescription is only fully working when you are looking straight ahead through the centre of the glasses lens.

These new technology lenses have focal points all through out the lens, what this MEANS IS THAT YOU PERIPHERAL VISION IS IN FOCUS WHICH IS THE KEY ISSUE IN ALL OF THE ABOVE CASES I SUSPECT!!

See the following:

'MICROPRISM OPTICS adopts a treatment focus in behavioural optometry and a treatment method known as ‘Visuo-Somatic Realignment’.  In adopting a behavioural optometry focus, Microprism Optics considers eye health in an integrated sense, viewing a patient’s eye health as having many contributing factors beyond the eyes themselves.  Therefore, in his consultations with patients, the optometrist examines the eyes in conjunction with the rest of the body.  The optometrist also assesses how both eyes work together and how detail is viewed with respect to peripheral space.  Small amounts of prism, in conjunction with lenses, are given to support vision/ body weaknesses and encourage redirection and movement to give the desired clear, comfortable, focused near and peripheral vision and relaxed normal visual/ body function at each step.

Now just to make it CLEAR, I am not a rep or a person with commercial interest in any of this, but I found this medical thread when I was searching for an answer and now that I have a solution I wanted to let you all know about it as it is new tech and this has REALY WORKED for me!

I am based in Melbourne, Australia so not sure about people in the US or rest of the world.

All i can say is the technology is probably available in Hawaii as I was told that is where the research is being done in a University there.
In the past 2 months I have been able to drive like I always used to and find I enjoy wearing the glasses as they relax my whole face as I am no longer squinting at all.

Best wishes and I hope this information helps people who have experienced these symptoms.


Avatar universal
I am so glad I found this information.  I have been having this problem for the past three months.  I feel like I'm drunk driving on an icy road and that I'm going to go over the side of the road at any time.  I have been to the doctor, my cardiologist and ENT and no one has been able to find out what is causing it.  The ENT said it was migraines but I don't have a headache.  It is affecting my life because I'm not able to drive on the freeways or over 35 miles per hour.  I have to depend on my husband to take me anywhere I need to go.   Knowing that other people are having these same symptoms helps alot. I was beginning to think I was crazy.  
Find any answers it yet?
Avatar universal
Feeling same......I wear glasses.  Does everyone posting here wear glasses?
Avatar universal
Has anyone found answer for this?! I have not been able to drive out of town for over a year. Been to opthamologist , neurologist and not finding anything. Waiting to see Neuro again. I am so frustrated! I don't take any meds or use any type of drugs.
Please no negative comments, this is a real problem and obviously I am not alone
Any answers yet?
Avatar universal
Any updates ?  Boy do I have it to a great yet sometimes varying degree...
Avatar universal
Yes...I wear glasses..although have not attempted to create symptoms with contacts--May try it--...always on the freeways at higher speeds when it hits me...stop and go, even winding roads NOT a problem...glasses are 'graduated' multifocal...  Also note seems to worsen if fatigued ...does seem to be more noticeable if any alcohol nite before ....(?)
Avatar universal
I have started experiencing this in the past 2 weeks.  So glad to know I'm not alone, but I wish I knew what to do about it.  I wear glasses, and have been wearing this particular pair for about 6 months.  So I don't think that's it.  It happens while I'm driving in light traffic situations on a fairly straight and smooth road.  Looking around from side to side helps temporarily, but it's easy to slip back into the "trance".    
Are you still going through it? Find any answers yet?
1856134 tn?1319780628
I can't believe I found this. I thought I was the only one. I finally found it by googling tunnel vision while driving. I could not explain it more accurately than all of you have. I feel as if the road is moving underneath me and that I have stopped. I always say it's like being in a video game! When I used to smoke pot back in the day , I would get a very similar feeling while driving. However I only smoked a handful of times in my life and that was 14+ years ago. Now when this tunnel vision happens I become very scared and like I am going to hit a car in front of me because I really can't tell how fast I am going considering the fact that I feel like I am not moving at all. It feels like everything is closing in on me and I try to focus on non moving things like buildings and trees and signs. I shake my head back and forth to try to "shake" myself out of it but it doesn't do anything. I am glad I'm not the only one. I wish there was an answer on here though!
Hey have you found anything close to an answer yet? This is really hard to explain to doctors and people are you too
Avatar universal
I have just started experiencing the same thing last week, directly in front of me is normal but my peripheral vision distorts into "tunnel" vision if I move my eyes around the distortion stops but it's very unnerving while driving
Avatar universal
I have just started experiencing 3 days ago while I was on a road trip from Florida to NY.

Thanks to this forum! Now I know that I'm not alone. I don't know yet what causes or triggers this symptom. I do know that when it happened I was doing the following:

1. Wearing glasses
2. Being tired
3. Driving at night
4. Driving in the narrow road. Like going through a tunnel
5. Drinking coffee
6. Playing video game on my phone (staring at a small screen for at least 5 hours a day)

I also noticed that blinking eyes more often helps. I'm curious to see how others agree with my observation above.

Avatar universal
I really hope someone posts an answer!  I have had this for around 4-5 years now.  Started on country roads, also get in on the motorway, in tunnels and really badly in the snow.  Worse in the day and makes me really anxious.  Have had a couple of bad car accidents in my life so wondered if it was related to anxiety but it started not close to either accident.  I swear I'm going to have another bad accident when it happens and I don't even feel "real".  Only comparison is when I used to smoke weed and walk home and feel like I was on a treadmill!  This morning in the snow it happened within a few seconds and I simply CAN'T shake it off.  I don't wear glasses and no known issues with my eyesight.  Help!
Have you found any answers to this yet? Been getting this since 04 still no answers
Avatar universal
This happened to me tonight, me and my mate was on our way to meet friends and it started to snow and when it got heavy this started to happen i felt like i was stationary and had to keep checking the speed meter to tell myself i was moving this was on a main bypass. I told him that i feel really weird but in control but he said to pull over where safe and he would drive. The strange feeling was i'd drove this road so many times before and know it really well and knew there was a pull over coming up soon but instead of it feeling like a few minutes to get there it felt like it took hours. Just to be clear i was completely sober and was driving straight after work. The reason i say i was sober is because this is not the first time ive had the same feeling, i know it sounds bad but when i get high the exact same thing happens to me when i walk i feel like im on a tredmill and everything is being pulled to me, so i dont bother getting high because it is not a pleasant feeling. I dont condone drug use i'm just making the point ive had the exact same feeling before without driving but it was exactly the same feeling.
Avatar universal
This happens to me. Wish there was an answer. No glasses.
1438750 tn?1302819443
Hi, has a town figured this out yet?

I am still getting it! I have stopped driving on the interstate but still notice it when on long stretches of roads.

If I am down one with a lot of trees the trees or mailboxes or lines in the road seem to skip as they get closer to me. It's so strange and unnerving.

Hope someone can figure this out.
Find any answers yet?
Avatar universal
This just happened to me a few days ago, same exact situation, I noticed it happens day or night, after driving for over and 1.5 hours, at least of a speed limit of 78-85, sometime even at 45-55,I'm 31 and I do get constant migraines.... has anyone else figured out besides taking adderall?
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