Distorted vision problems update: Palinopsia, oscillopsia, visual snow, metamorphopsia, and sudden blurred vision

palinopsiaThis week featured several articles on eye problems that cause distorted vision and covered the causes and treatments of problems such as palinopsia, oscillopsia, visual snow, metamorphopsia, and sudden blurred vision.

Vision problems are more than just blurry eyes caused by far-sightedness, near-sightedness, astigmatism, cataracts, and infections. While these may cause sudden blurred vision, distorted vision can be of several types, which include seeing:

  • Halos
  • Blind spots or dark holes in vision (also called scotomas)
  • After-images (palinopsia)
  • Objects moving back and forth in the eye horizon and double vision–a condition known as oscillopsia
  • A “visible snow” covering the field of vision.
  • Straight lines as bent or wavy ones—a condition called metamorphopsia

Palinopsia: Types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment


Palinopsia is defined as the persistent recurrence of a visual image after the stimulus has been removed. It is often described as having an after-image of an object, reappearing briefly after it has been removed from attention. The condition is distracting and irritating, but fleeting as the image in the visual field lasts just for a few seconds in most cases.

What is palinopsia?

Palinopsia differs somewhat from physiological after-images, as experienced when viewing a bright image and shifting visual focus with the image appearing instantaneously. Palinopsia, on the other hand, displays after-images immediately or after some time. These images also tend to be positive images (the same color as the original visual stimulus), while physiological after-images are negative images (with colors and contrasts flipped).

While data on the number of people affected by palinopsia is limited, it is estimated that up to 10 percent of migraine headache sufferers show symptoms of the condition. This is especially true in patients who have a migraine with aura. It is not certain whether palinopsia occurs more frequently in men or women, but there is a correlation between women and an increased frequency of migraine headaches. Continue reading

oscillopsiaOscillopsia: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Oscillopsia refers to a visual disturbance where those affected experience swinging or oscillating vision. Patients often report that objects on the horizon of their eye vision move back and forth as well as up and down, making it difficult to effectively capture and recognize an object. Patients also describe having blurred or double vision. Many of these symptoms are reported when the patient is moving, walking, running, or even simply riding in a car.
Oscillopsia is an incapacitating and distressing condition and is believed to be a result of an underlying neurological dysfunction of the oculomotor system.

What causes oscillopsia?

There are several muscles involved in normal eye movements, which can be affected by abnormalities of the central nervous system. The loss of image stabilization during head movements is believed to be a major cause of oscillopsia. Essentially, oscillopsia develops when the retina image is unstable because the eye is either moving too much or not enough. Continue reading

snowVisual snow: Why there is snow or television-like static in your vision?

Visual snow is a relatively rare condition due in part to many affected individuals not being aware they have it. It is the subtle perception of a “visible snow” over your entire field of vision, similar to static noise that you see on a TV screen. The condition is said to be more visible over solid surfaces than over textured ones. However, it is still a condition not fully recognized by the medical community. This may change as more research is done on the condition.

What does visual snow mean?

Visual snow may also be referred to as “visual static” or “positive persistent visual disturbance.” The clinical term for it is aeropsia, which literally translates to “seeing air.” The condition is often described as seeing tiny white and black dots that resemble the poor reception a TV can receive, but in a very obscure manner that doesn’t completely impede vision. Accompanying symptoms may include photophobia (a sensitivity to light), prolonged after images, color swirls, trailing, bright flashes, poor night vision, and floaters. Visual snow is not associated with a visual aura that commonly occurs with migraine headaches despite the fact that many patients with visual snow also have migraines. Continue reading

metamorphopsiaMetamorphopsia: Causes, symptoms, tests, and treatment

Metamorphopsia is a type of distorted vision symptom or disorder that causes you to view a grid of straight lines to appear wavy and parts of the grid to appear blank. This phenomenon is commonly experienced in different macular disorders, which are disorders of the retina which is responsible for central vision.

What is metamorphopsia?

The inability to perceive visual images clearly accompanied by distortion of the size and shape of the object being viewed can be referred to as metamorphopsia. Much of this is the result of refractive errors that occur when light enters the eye and is not represented clearly due to pathological alteration of the retina. This leads to the part of the brain responsible for processing viewed images to do its best to interpret what you are seeing, often making you see wavy or distorted hallucinations.

Image distortion can either be macropsia or micropsia. Macropsia refers to the shape of an object looking distorted, while micropsia referred to the size of an object not appearing correct, either being larger or smaller Continue reading

sudden-blurred-visionSudden blurred vision: Causes and treatments

Sudden blurred vision can be a result of numerous health conditions. It can be temporary or chronic, and can get worse over time. Sudden blurred vision is usually not accompanied by pain, but other symptoms such as migraine may be present.

If you’re experiencing blurry vision, objects and people do not appear clearly and sharpness is lost. This condition can affect either one eye or both eyes, depending on the cause. Some people can have blurry vision from birth (in this case, it’s a birth defect) while others develop blurred vision over time.


Sudden blurred vision causes can range in severity, from easily treatable conditions to chronic, life-long complications. Below you will uncover the many different causes of sudden blurred vision along with symptoms and treatment options. Continue reading

The articles published this week provide an insight into the range of vision problems, each of which has more than one cause and are at times interrelated. Some vision problems could be related to migraines. These include sudden blurred vision, visual snow, and metamorphopsia.

As most of the problems have several causes, treatment generally depends on the diagnosis of the underlying cause. It could range from simple lifestyle changes such as wearing sunglasses or lenses to corrective surgery.