My distorted vision
Distorted vision; I have had several rather severe occurrences of distorted vision. So much distortion, that for a short period of time (45 minutes) I was literally blind. I have documented those occurrences on my page entitled temporary vision loss. Nate Wilson has written me a much appreciated accounting of his distorted vision occurrences. His symptoms are so similar to my experience I thought it might be helpful to add Nate's account to my website, so you can read about these same symptoms happening to a much younger individual. These episodes of distorted vision can be quite disconcerting (scary!). So here are Nate's circumstances with my response interspersed, and even more recent occurrences for Nate.
From: Nate Wilson
Subject: Distorted Vision
Thanks for posting your experience with vision loss. (http://www.bobshowto.com/temporary-vision-loss.htm) I have looked all over the internet this morning for something describing what happened to me yesterday and this is the closest I have come. My experience is below if you are interested.
After a 9am-6pm work day yesterday I ran a 5K like I normally do but I ran it on trails and I was shooting for a good time. I am 23 years old and I am in good health. Like normal, I finished up, took a shower and went home. About half way home - 35-45 minutes after finishing my work out - I notice my vision becoming distorted. (I use "distorted" because my brain seemed to be trying to fill in the gaps but really I could not see specific areas.) Driving on the freeway I realized that I could only read the first half of license plates on cars - the rest just appeared to be blank. I began to notice that I could not see the right wheels on cars and that the tail-lights on vehicles had disappeared from the right side. Some of the billboards on the right side of the highway appeared to be floating too and I had no idea what they said - I only saw a floating rectangle of color. As I turned my head to look out the right side of my car, I noticed that there were whole cars I could not see driving in the 3 other lanes to my right! My brain had filled in an empty road to try and compensate for losing clarity in my peripheral vision - but there were no details. I missed ALL the road signs if I did not turn my head. I was a little scared but I recognized that if I kept sweeping my head from left to right, I could see everything and drive safely. Had it gotten any worse I might have pulled over and called 911.
The whole experience was particularly weird because there were no other symptoms with the vision loss. No rash, no bleeding or bruising, my eyes even looked fine according to my roommate. I hadn't poked my eye recently and there was no pain anywhere in my whole body. I do not have any chronic conditions that I am aware of and I did not even have a headache. I was properly hydrated but a little hungry so I began to think back over everything I ate and drank over the day. The only change in my diet I could identify was that I had eaten a very light lunch (about half the food I normally would).
Once I got home (about 15-20 minutes from the time I noticed the vision loss) I headed straight for the telephone and the pantry. I opened up a bag of chips and called the vision center nearby to see if they could recognize the symptoms. I really did NOT want to get back in the car and try to go somewhere. After talking to them I realized two things. First they have never heard of this before and said I should call the emergency room and second my vision was returning. I am not sure if it was due to eating chips or just coming back with time but I was grateful either way.
After reading your stories I might add that a regular part of my day is a small cup of frozen yogurt (1/2 a cup or so) and a small cookie around 3-4pm which is about 2-3 hours before beginning my workout. I did not skip this sweet treat yesterday. So there you have it Bob - light eating combined with a small high-sugar snack and strenuous exercise leading to temporary vision loss.
For what it is worth I should also point out that my regular routine is not much different that what I described above. The only major difference is that I eat a larger lunch and my workout might be slightly less intense. This is the first time that I have experienced a loss of vision though.
Oh - thanks for posting a link to that article too!
I had a similar thing happen to my vision in middle school while I was sitting in class that was diagnosed as a "classic migraine." If I remember correctly though, it also came with a pounding headache.
To: Nate Wilson
Subject: Distorted Vision
Thanks for writing. Your experience sounds virtually identical to mine. So I consistently now avoid anything with sugar, just before, during, or shortly after vigorous physical exercise. A beer after exercise is safer for me than hot chocolate! I still definitely recommend seeing your family doctor, perhaps using the term “Aura” to augment your description of your experience.
I do have “glaucoma” but I don’t think my vision loss incidents are related to the vision loss due to my glaucoma. But if you have any concern you should see an ophthalmologist and have a visual field test ($200?) done. Insurance should cover it, I think (I’m one of those 50 million who doesn’t have any health insurance, they won’t take me!).
My glaucoma is known as low or normal tension glaucoma. The test an optometrist does to check for glaucoma may fail to detect “low tension” glaucoma. Even though I had noticed and complained of vision problems in my right eye for two years, my optometrist did not diagnose it till he did a visual field test. For more info: http://www.bobshowto.com/low-tension-glaucoma-experience.htm
Would you mind if I post your email content as a web page below my Vision Loss page?
I’m sure your story could help many people realize this is not that an unusual occurrence.
I can make it completely anonymous, or if you’d like I can include your name and even your email address. There may be people that would like to email you directly about your experience. One caveat about the email address is automatic “BOTS” will find it and probably send you some junk mail. To date that’s why I don’t have a convenient “mailto” button on my site. I probably will soon though.
I’m in my mid 50's now, and still go mogul skiing, and ski all day without vision loss occurring. I really have not had a recurrence since the skiing day I described in my article which must be at least 10 years ago now!
I’ve also had a physical health revelation which may have helped; fish oil (omega 3’s). I’d say probably about 6 years ago I’d find myself needing “breaks” as a skied down a 2000 or 3000 foot ski trail. I’d have to stop and catch my breath. Shortly after I started taking “fish oil” supplements, I forget why. I found I could now ski an entire mogul run, non-stop, an incredible improvement in endurance in my 50’s!
I think I’ve been Omega 3 deficient since I was a kid! I did well in my high school gym class except in one activity, running! I’d always end up coming in last with the “fat kids”. I was always winded; my teacher couldn’t understand why.
I’ve never really learned to like fish, so I’ve rarely had fish oil in my diet. I do eat seafood but only very infrequently. So I really do think I’ve been Omega 3 deficient for 50 some years of my life. And I do think it’s possible the Omega 3’s have helped ward off “vision loss” events.
From: Nate Wilson
Subject: Distorted Vision
Wow - thanks for the follow up Bob. You're more than welcome to publish my e-mail and my name. For now, I would appreciate it if you withhold my e-mail address though. You might also be interested to hear two other things too. First, it happened again today (more details below) and second, I was reminded by my mother of a family history of migraines including two occurrences as a child when I lost vision. (details also below)
Thanks also for the tips you provided in your e-mail. I guess I will need to stock up on beer if I feel like continuing to run! I have heard a lot about fish oil too - I am glad you passed that along. I am also glad to hear that you continue ski without needing breaks. If we had snow in GA (and real peaks for that matter), I imagine I would do a lot more skiing myself. Perhaps one day...
Below is just more information about prior and subsequent vision loss if interested:
TODAY: Today was also a normal work day and a 5K beginning at 6pm. I have been trying to eat more substantially just in case the lack of food had anything to do with it - but I have not been eating double portions or anything like that. Unlike yesterday, my vision loss began about 100-150 meters into my run (about 2%-3% into what I normally run). Needless to say, I knew what was happening this time and so I turned around and walked back. Same thing basically - no pain, steady loss of peripheral vision (this time on the left side - not the right) and complete sight was fully returned in about 45 minutes from the time it started to get fuzzy.
I tried to help the return of the vision along by resting, eating crackers (6 or so), and drinking a bottle of "athletic water" (that flavored water stuff that Powerade makes). In a rather prideful and probably stupid move, I decided to see how closely this was tied to my workouts. So I started the 5K again - this time walking mostly and with my cell phone in hand. About 1000 meters in I still had no problems with vision and I was feeling fine. So I started jogging. I was able to finish the final 4K mostly at this pace with a little sprinting here and there too - no additional vision loss.
The final symptom that might be related was a very mild headache that began about 2 hours after the initial loss of vision began. Its annoying (I still have it as I write this) but not so much that I need to take Advil or something. Plus I think it is probably safer not to be putting drugs into my system right now without knowing whats going on.
1.) In class one day during 6th grade I lost my vision and had a throbbing headache with it. I do not remember additional details.
2.) Between the ages of 16 and 19 (cannot remember) I took a trip from Charlotte NC to Denver CO via plane and suffered from a severe migraine during which I also lost vision. Doctors suggested it might be related to the sudden change in elevation. I am pretty sure we went skiing on that trip come to think of it - but I cannot remember if it was before or after the visit to the ER.
I hope that helps Bob. Glad to hear you've found a solution that keeps your vision healthy!
So there you have it, yet another perspective on temporary distorted vision. Many people do appear to have these rather surprising symptoms. If you've had similar experiences please make sure you at least talk to your family doctor about it.
Hope you find this useful,
BobsHowTo End Marker