Visual oddity in one eye.
May 31, 2013 3:49 AM   Subscribe

I am having an odd experience with seeing something that is not there and am curious if anyone has experienced similar.

Symptoms: for about 3 weeks I will wake in the early hours and on opening both eyes I see something with my right eye which my left does not see. This morning it was a shiny metal saucepan. It has previously been a dark shape, a handle, metal bars, a picture and more. If I close both eyes and re-open nothing changes. If I close my right eye my left eye sees nothing odd. If I close that and open the right the object is there. If I rub that eye the object remains. I can hold a finger and bring that from arms length to my eye and it goes through the object. If I hold my hand on my right eye then extend my arm as if pushing the object away it disappears. I usually just look at the image, wish that this hadn't happened again, check with both eyes as I describe above and then make it go away by 'pushing it' as above. So it's there for maybe a minute or two. It does not happen more than once even if I wake again. There is no other visual disparity at any time of day/night.
The object: is not 'on' anything, it is just there in space. And I never see the whole thing but easily enough to recognise it.
The Room: A normal bedroom, no lights except from what gets past the curtain edges. No flickering, patterns on walls and the object has appeared when the pillow, the wardrobe, a dresser and the ceiling have been the background
Health: Fluoxetine 60mg, history of depression. Vision: Wear glasses
Had an Optometrist appt last week (where I forgot to mention this) but my eyes were fully tested and no problems detected. Prescription has barely changed in 2 years, field of vision is good, backs of eyes looked healthy, pressures are okay, no floaters (or history of).
Everything is otherwise just fine.
It's not disturbing, just really odd.

I have not yet mentioned it to a GP as it seems so odd and I have no idea what they could look for.
posted by episodic to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would absolutely tell your GP about this, ASAP, and they'll probably have you talk to a neurologist.
posted by empath at 3:55 AM on May 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

An ophthalmologist can test for things an optometrist can't. I know this as my optometrist completely missed something that an ophthalmologist caught later. In any case, it sounds like you need more medical attention, as your eyes might not be the problem.
posted by chrillsicka at 3:59 AM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

The least exotic possibility I can think of is that you're still in a mild dream state... I've had times when I woke up and saw something in the room that wasn't there. But that was very fleeting, and it didn't happen every morning either. I think you should talk to a doctor soon.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:11 AM on May 31, 2013

I think you should take it to a GP, as well as go back to the optometrist and tell them about it - they can't tell you if this is a problem if they're not aware of it.

I absolutely urge you to rush out and deal with this now, because you can't be too careful with your eyes.

Having said that, it may turn out not to be all that serious. The first thing is that you are just waking up when it happens, and in that state of consciousness it's easy to have hallucinatory experiences. And you also say this doesn't happen at any other time.

Seeing hallucinations is also something that can happen when there are gaps in your field of vision, and you can get it with serious stuff like macular degeneration, but also with less serious stuff like cataracts - your brain sees a gap and it thinks "that can't be right, I'll just paint something in there" but the fact that it's a hallucination doesn't mean it says anything significant about your mental state. When we look at a whole scene, we're actually not seeing all of it at once: we really only see the thing we're focusing on, and the brain continuously redraws everything around it. So if you look down the street, and focus on one particular house on that street, you might see that house or a detail of that house, but all the other houses around it are actually visual reconstructions where your brain has gone [insert house here].

I've also been between sleeping and waking and I have had screaming fits because I distinctly saw the shirt hanging on a hook next to me, come to life and reach its arms out to attack. This especially used to happen when I was already anxious, but I don't think anxiety has to have anything to do with it.

However - IANAD, and I also don't really know anything and this answer is worth exactly what you paid for it. IT'S YOUR EYES, TAKE YOUR EYES TO THE DOCTOR NOW, DON'T WAIT, YOU CAN'T BE TOO CAREFUL WITH YOUR EYES.
posted by tel3path at 5:02 AM on May 31, 2013

Thanks for the advice - Yes, I will be seeing the GP (I have an appt in 10 days. Can't be any sooner apparently. Such is Virgin Healthcare and our local practice).

I was not expecting a diagnosis or a "No worries, we all get that!" but posted in case there was something anecdotal or a pointer which I had not considered. The diverse nature of the readers here seemed too useful a resource to not just ask.

empath - I'd not seen that post but the details in Bonnet are above the level of detail I see.

tel3path - My wife has had those and they are just as scary to be woken up with ("No, you don't need to rip the curtains down, it's gone, really".
posted by episodic at 5:40 AM on May 31, 2013

Its an odd one. Are your eyes picking up the light at the edge of the curtains and creating a shape when you look around? Is it an actual object you are seeing or a shape?
posted by 0 answers at 5:47 AM on May 31, 2013

0 answer - I don't think it's external light playing tricks. The light that comes through in the early hours is low, constant and the curtains don't move. Nothing casts shadows onto the windows.
I have seen a shape - the first time it happened - and last night I saw something that was a saucepan but it wasn't an actual saucepan. The objects are different each time and I can't link them to any daytime activity.

It's because everything else feels fine that I've done nothing up to now. It's strange to describe though and hopefully I do get a referral for someone else to take a look.
posted by episodic at 6:05 AM on May 31, 2013

I did have a scare a few weeks ago when I couldn't work out why one eye seemed to have darker vision than the other when waking in the middle of the night a couple of nights running. I realised later that the brief look I was having at my mobile phone with one eye shut to check the time was causing it. Sounds stupid but i hadn't connected the two until the inevitable "doh" moment. Hope it is something as innocuous for you episodic.
posted by 0 answers at 6:14 AM on May 31, 2013

One thing you might try is to do an image search for "migraine aura" and see whether any of the images look familiar. In my experience, you can get those while otherwise feeling fine and without experiencing any other symptoms like headaches or nausea.
posted by rjs at 6:54 AM on May 31, 2013

That's definitely not in your eyes -- both the fact that it's an object (rather than an amorphous shape) and that you can "push it away" (a mental, not a retinal, trick) indicate that it's something going on in your brain, either the visual cortex or someplace more complicated/high-level. Could be a little micro-seisure in the left part of your cortex, something related to a migraine phenomenon, or something more serious (tumor, say). I am not a doctor, but I am a neurobiologist, so just wanted to prepare you for the likelihood that there will be follow-up from your GP visit.
posted by acm at 7:03 AM on May 31, 2013 [8 favorites]

Such is Virgin Healthcare and our local practice

It's almost always possible to see your GP on an emergency basis, usually by queuing up on the day or having a doctor call you back so that you can describe your symptoms to them. You'll probably see a locum, but the GP will probably be referring you to a neurologist and you want the referral to happen as quickly as possible.
posted by Acheman at 7:52 AM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

2nding acm. I think it is unlikely to be your eye that is the problem if these are truly identifiable objects you are seeing.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:38 AM on May 31, 2013

Is your depression under control with your meds? If not, please bring it up with your GP. This can be a symptom of a major depressive episode.
posted by kamikazegopher at 9:15 AM on May 31, 2013

acheman - what you say is true but first you have to get past The Medical Receptionist. As I was expressing no urgency because I otherwise feel fine I wasn't seen as needing sooner even though I described the symptoms.

acm - many thanks. I read your reply to the receptionist when I rang back and your words made them let me see the GP today. He is referring me to Neurology on Monday (as it's 17:20 here now)

kamikazegopher - it is not in full control, no. And there may well be a link to depression but it doesn't feel related.

Thanks for the help :)
posted by episodic at 9:23 AM on May 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fluoxetie is known to caause visual disturbances much as you describe.
posted by BenPens at 11:13 AM on May 31, 2013

To follow this up:

I was eventually given an MRI and the result of that was that there is nothing inside my head which would be causing this. There is still nothing wrong with my eyes (had them checked again).

So it could be fluoxetine, it could be a migraine effect or it could be something as yet not found. But so far there is no organic cause for concern.

I do still experience these odd visions.
posted by episodic at 3:04 PM on September 21, 2013

« Older Making a WiFi network with my iMac?   |   Uses for old birthday cards? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.