Blindness translation to and from dreams?
December 26, 2013 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I am a quite vivid dreamer, but one of my reoccurring themed dreams is me going along, usually in a vehicle which I may or may not control, and going blind temporarily while travelling in that vehicle. I'm used to them, but does going blind during vivid or lucid dreaming at all related to blindness caused by TIAs?

Blah blah blah dream interpretation blah blah blah, but ???

Might be having TIAs in real life that happen when I'm dreaming? Causing the temporary "loss of signal" blindness I'm experiencing in dreams? The "blindness" is not everything going dark, but greys and distorted significantly (not even shapes, just a distortion wavy "screen").

Generally it's transient, associated with me controlling or being part of a mass transit event that ... is less in my control (insanely steep/curved flyover ramps that I fail to navigate safely or down steep, nearly 90 degree grades) or along dangerous roads (not that any road is good to go blind on) - non-divided highways, narrow one lane roads bordered by cliffs or canals.

It's bugging me now because my most recent one had one of my kids as a passenger, and I found myself explaining to them what to do in case I did go blind while driving / how they could help.

I don't *think* I've ever lost my vision while awake (once I had trouble rousing from a sleepy state and had a similar "grey screen"). I've recently had my yearly physical and aside from still being overweight and in need of occasional mammograms am in reasonable shape. Had and passed a heart stress test a few years ago after a series of what might have been panic attacks. Never mentioned to the docs because I always forget, but could go in and see if I can find a pattern to test.

I know that the body can go into a state where you can't move as part of sleeping (and sometimes people wake for that) but does that happen with blindness at all?
posted by tilde to Science & Nature (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you asking if you are having strokes when you are dreaming about being blind? Are you having other symptoms of stroke?
posted by Houstonian at 8:29 AM on December 26, 2013

Best answer: Setting aside the question of whether or not it's possible for TIAs to cause blindness in the way you fear...

If you aren't having TIAs causing blindness while awake, it seems a stretch to think that you would be having them while asleep. If the dream-experience that you report is only cropping up in very specific dream circumstances, it seems more likely related to the dream than something happening in real life. You aren't hypothesizing that TIAs also cause dreams about high-stress mass transit, right?

Talk to your doctor if it worries you, but it seems overwhelmingly likely that these are just anxiety dreams about going blind when you badly need your vision.
posted by catalytics at 8:34 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you mean TIA to refer to a transient ischemic attack?

Many people have recurring dreams. In fact, if you Google "recurring dreams blindness," you will see many people have similar dreams about going blind. It probably reflects a fear of losing control, though I'm no Certified Dream Analyst.

Every few months I have an anxiety dream where I am blind or going blind. Or I need to dial a phone number and just can't get it right, having to hang up and try again and again. Less frequently, I'm taking the final exam for a course I know nothing about. Or am about to walk at graduation and realize I never finished a required final paper.

You can speak to your doctor, but if you have no other symptoms, I would not necessarily correlate blindness in your dreams to blindness in real life.
posted by whitewall at 8:38 AM on December 26, 2013

Best answer: Also: be careful with your kids? Telling them that you might go blind while driving - and that they might need to do something to take care of this situation - seems like a great way to give them their own horrific anxiety. If you genuinely think that you might lose your vision while driving, don't drive. (People with seizure disorders have to live this way.) If you don't really believe that it will happen, don't scare your kids with nightmare scenarios about how everything safe might actually kill them.
posted by catalytics at 8:39 AM on December 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

FWIW, I have similar dreams in which I cannot control my car on treacherous roads. The blindness part just sounds like an extra narrative twist to me. The simplest explanation is that your dreams are expressing anxiety about not having control in threatening situations.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:41 AM on December 26, 2013

This is not a weird phenomenon. Sometimes I dream that I have to drive with the sun in my eyes and that I can't see anything. This usually happens when I'm exhausted.

If you're concerned, see a doctor about it. Dreams aren't symptoms of anything, per se. But you seem super-concerned, to the point of freaking your kids out by mentioning the possibility to them.

Your concern seems to relate to OCD of some sort. Please see a doctor, don't just mention your concern about TIA, but mention that you're fixated on this particular thing to the point where you've actually formed a plan should it happen.

Don't discount seeing a therapist about this fear.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:41 AM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also: be careful with your kids? Telling them that you might go blind while driving - and that they might need to do something to take care of this situation - seems like a great way to give them their own horrific anxiety

I think she did this in the dream.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2013

One of my major dream themes (perhaps everyone's) when under stress is being literally out of control in a car, plane, something, and another is that I'm under physical attack and I can't see what I need to see/control my legs to run/control my arms to hit an attacker or fire a gun (sometimes a gun is in my hands and I can't control the trigger finger).

I think those latter things are all because we (thankfully) do not generally control our bodies while asleep (can't remember the medical terminology for this) and I believe that lack of control is starting to manifest itself in the dream (keep in mind that the parts of dreams we can remember are usually right before we wake up). My version of "can't see what I need to see" manifests itself as lack of focus or something's in my way, but I could definitely see something like you describe being part of that.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:48 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I dream that I go blind (or in my case I just can't open my eyes) and fumble around with sound and touch only. This happens a few times a year. I've never thought too much about it until now. I just figured, eh, dreams.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:55 AM on December 26, 2013

I regularly dream that I can't see. I actually am extremely myopic, and as such most of my dreams are blurry as hell to begin with, but when I am particularly anxious about not knowing what's ahead or feeling like my life is out of control, blindness and being in a car I can't stop manifest as dream archetypes immediately. Perhaps the same can be said for you?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:01 AM on December 26, 2013

I can't help you with the rest of this but I can tell you that I have basically this exact same dream. My hand-wavey story that I've always told myself is that since my eyes are technically unable to see (because they are closed) there is probably some crossed-signal brain stuff going on and I do not worry about it beyond that.
posted by jessamyn at 9:02 AM on December 26, 2013

If this was my dream, I would see this as a metaphor about going through life without really seeing where I'm going and how I'm getting there (my path, my life road) and feeling like my life was not in my control. Without being ABLE to see where I'm going in life.
posted by gt2 at 9:34 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also regularly dream that I can't see (either at all, or well enough to do what I need to be doing in my dream: reading, running away from things, photography, whatever).

It's just another anxiety dream, like going to the mall with no pants on.
posted by lydhre at 11:46 AM on December 26, 2013

The distorted wavy grayness you describe would fit the blind spots I often get from migraines very well, and I have awakened from prolonged and very vivid 'fly-over' dreams with a migraine in progress on a number of occasions, but I don't remember such a blind spot in the dream itself.

Here is a page collecting people's experiences with migraine-coupled vivid dreams.
posted by jamjam at 12:19 PM on December 26, 2013

Response by poster: So it might be more more migraine / general dream brain randomness related and not "I'm stroking out while dreaming and getting over it but might wake up blind one morning".

Yes, the instructions were to the kid in the dream. I try not to let them worry about tings that are remooooote in the real world.

I don't seem to have any other symptoms of stroke according to Dr Google, so it sounds more like it's just another wrinkle in the anxiety dream thing.

The tenor of the dreams don't bug me; I'm used to them and aware of the external circumstances that sometimes unavoidably prompt them. Just every time I get the blindness wrinkle I mean to do more research but never managed to until now, like five years after they've started adding this wrinkle in.

No known seizure disorders or yeah, I'd be more of a bus rider.
posted by tilde at 12:44 PM on December 26, 2013

if the temporary blindness only happens in the reoccurring dream, and if you don't have other symptoms in rl, then i'd assume it is a part of the reoccurring dream. if this blindness were to happen in dreams of other subjects then maybe something physical is happening but i sort of doubt it tbh.

in dream interpretation i believe cars or going on a journey relates to the course of one's life, your life direction. i'd guess that your dream is telling you that you don't feel like you can see where your life is really going i.e. your vision for your future is not clear but blurred, and you are navigating dangerous roads. maybe you are also worried how this could affect your children and so are trying to warn them. i don't know if this is a general worry or about one specific area of you life. /amateur dream interpretation
posted by wildflower at 4:19 PM on December 26, 2013

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