Momentary tunnel vision caused by orgasm: wtf?
March 20, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

What would cause me to experience a flash of light in my peripheral visual field during orgasm, and should I be concerned about it?

28, female, in good health as far as I know. I've been trying to Google for more information on this phenomenon, but clearly haven't been able to come up with the right search phrases.

An extended description of the experience: sometimes when I orgasm, I experience a flash of light just before or during the event. This just started happening a few months ago. Usually it happens in my dominant eye (left), but if I concentrate hard enough, I can get the same thing to happen in my right field of vision.

This is not like the "seeing stars" that you might get from a blow to the head, as far as I can tell. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the tunnel vision experience, except that it only lasts a second or so, and instead of of darkness/grey-out, the ring around my field of vision is bright. Sometimes it's just a small ring of light blocking out my peripheral vision - sometimes if I concentrate, I can get it to block most of my visual field. It doesn't happen all the time, but it also doesn't seem to have anything to do with holding my breath or tensing my muscles in any specific way (although to be fair, I'm probably not a very good objective observer).

It's been a fun game learning how to make it happen whenever I want, but some small part of me is concerned that it's happening at all. I'm severely nearsighted, but get my vision checked regularly - a younger sibling was diagnosed with a freak case of wet-form macular degeneration a few years ago (everything is fine with them for now), and so I'm kind of paranoid about eye problems. At my check-up six months ago: nothing unusual. This doesn't seem to happen at any other time except during orgasm, and I've noticed no other vision or neurological symptoms.

Is this something to worry about or just a fun little bedroom bonus?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Synesthesia ?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:40 AM on March 20, 2009

I think it's a fun little bedroom bonus. I get the tunnel vision part and I also get colors--pink, or sometimes yellow and green, or white (but not blinding) and once a very, very vivid blue. It's never occurred to me to question it, and having Lasik surgery didn't change anything.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:48 AM on March 20, 2009

IANAD, but I am a hypochondriac (also very nearsighted).

I noticed this question because I also see colors -- applied either to body parts or to imaginary scenes -- at orgasm, but it's a semi-voluntary stream of consciousness event, a visual equivalent of a trance state or glossolalia, that lasts several seconds. What you describe seems more like a visual hiccup or twitch that you have gained some switching power over, but haven't (yet!) been able to extend.

If this was happening in just one eye, I'd be screaming at you about the possibility of a retinal tear, but given that you're capable of switching eyes, this seems more like a trick your brain is playing on you.

While there's a good chance that this is just a fun little bedroom bonus, I think this is worth discussing with your doctor and (potentially) a neurologist. It might be a little embarrassing to talk about, but it's an oddity that should get some medical assessment, especially given your family history. Plus, once you're over your embarrassment, you'll have given your doctor a good story.
posted by rosebuddy at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2009

I'd see an optometrist if anyone in your family has a condition called macular degeneration or if you have prominent blind spots. This might be a problem with your retina, and flashes in the peripheral vision are usually a warning sign. I have this condition, and my uncle had an incident with retinal detachment a while back.

This is probably nothing, since you say you experience it in both eyes in some situations, but I think you should have an optometrist look at the inside of your eyes at some point and see how your retinas are doing.

I don't know if this is something to see a neurologist over. This is just one minor symptom. If you otherwise have reason to suspect something is wrong, then try that, but this could just be very mild synethesia, a condition that isn't too uncommon.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:12 PM on March 20, 2009

Been there done that, its a good orgasm! I have had CT scans and my brain is fine, so I'll bet yours it fine. REALLY weird things happen in your brain when you cum!
posted by Ekidnagrrl17 at 8:17 PM on March 27, 2009

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