Flickering eyes


Flickering or even noise in the eyes is a visual phenomenon that cannot be explained medically to this day and is hardly described in the specialist literature. An exact definition of eye flickering is therefore hardly possible. Reliable information on possible causes, accompanying symptoms and frequency or distribution in the population does not exist. According to their own statements, affected persons perceive many small, rapidly flickering spots at the edge of the field of vision permanently, i.e. also with closed eyes.

General information

In technical terminology, these flicker perceptions are called scintillations or flicker scotomas, depending on the source. The exact appearance of scintillations can vary individually in colour, size and number. In most cases, this perception, described as “visual snow”, is compared to the snow-like picture noise of a television set.

From a medical point of view, this clinical picture is usually regarded as a persistent perception disorder and must therefore be distinguished from the so-called ophthalmic migraine, which is also understood to be a bilateral but temporary visual disorder and in many cases accompanied by headaches. The following article deals with the perception disorder of eye fibrillation, which has hardly been recorded medically yet. In most cases, there are no dangerous diseases underlying eye fibrillation. If, however, eye flutter occurs more frequently, a doctor should be consulted who can determine and treat the cause.

The causes

As mentioned above, no cause for the eye flicker could be identified with certainty until today. Possible triggers include psychological stress, the consumption of the drugs LSD and cannabis, and an amino acid and/or vitamin deficiency. Furthermore, side effects of certain antidepressants (especially from the SSRI group), fungal diseases of the intestine and infectious diseases such as Lyme disease could play a role in the development of eye flicker.

Excessive consumption of alcohol or coffee could also play a role here. In many cases, eye fibrillation is associated with mental disorders, especially anxiety and panic disorders. It is unclear to what extent there is a causal connection, i.e. whether the flickering perceptions preceded the mental disorders and possibly caused them or vice versa.

However, many affected people actually report that the flickering has existed all their lives, which is why a genetic cause is also not unlikely. One of the most common explanations, however, is retinal vasospasm, comparable to the presumed mechanism of migraine. Another explanation is based on a deficiency of the neurotransmitter GABA in certain brain regions.

For example, the occipital lobe, which is located in the lower back of the brain and contains the visual centre, can be affected by GABA deficiency. This can lead to dysfunctions that cause the eyes to flicker. The latter theory is supported by the symptom-relieving effect of certain drugs that target the GABA receptor in some patients.

As already mentioned, stress is suspected as one of the causes of persistent eye flutter. It is sometimes described that those affected have been able to achieve improvements in their symptoms by adjusting their lifestyle. Triggers of the eye flutter could therefore be, among other things, the heavy consumption of alcohol and coffee, which in turn could be associated with psychological stress.

Furthermore, relaxation exercises and autogenic training seem to have a positive effect on the intensity of the eye flutter. People who spend a lot of time in front of a computer monitor in their free time or at work are also advised to take regular breaks. For example, a quarter-hour break after two hours of work in front of a computer is appropriate.

Eye flickering caused by a circulatory disorder is in most cases caused by a circulatory disorder of the brain. If, due to a defective regulation of the circulation, there is temporarily not enough blood with nutrients reaching the brain, the visual cortex, which is located at the back of the head, can also be affected by the lack of nutrients. As a consequence, visual disturbances such as flickering eyes, blackening of the eyes or the typical “stargazing” occur.

In rare cases, the circulation can also trigger a flickering of the eyes, which has its origin directly in the eye. However, the circulation can also cause a circulatory disorder in the eye itself. If the retina is not supplied with sufficient blood for a short time, light signals cannot be transmitted to the brain, so that eye flickering can also occur.

Circulatory disorders that cause eye fibrillation are typically seen in patients with low blood pressure or heart failure. In this case, the body is not always able to pump a sufficient amount of blood against gravity to the eye and brain, so a short-term circulatory disorder occurs. If the circulatory disorder is particularly severe, the blood supply to the entire brain may be reduced.

This can lead to a fainting fit (syncope). Other disturbances of the heart, such as cardiac arrhythmia, can also lead to a temporary reduction in blood flow and thus trigger a flickering of the eyes. As well as long lasting stress, neck tension and other complaints of the spine are a widespread problem of our society.

They are usually the result of an unhealthy posture, such as those caused by sedentary activities and lack of exercise. In addition to generally known diseases such as herniated discs, incorrect loading can also lead to the so-called cervical spine syndrome. This term, which is very vague in itself, covers a wide range of neurological and orthopaedic symptoms and symptom complexes that affect the shoulder and neck region.

The most common symptom is pain and muscle tension in the respective region, which can be accompanied by a number of additional symptoms. These can include headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness or visual disturbances. In addition, headaches caused by tension can also lead to a more rapid fatigue of the ability to concentrate.

This in turn quickly becomes noticeable in the eyes and vision. Affected persons have to exert themselves very hard to fixate objects with their eyes and to see sharply. If the muscles of the eyes and the lens become tired, this can lead to eye flickering and other visual disorders such as blurred vision.

Various therapeutic approaches are available for the treatment of eye fibrillation in the context of neck tension. In addition to physiotherapeutic exercises under supervision and alone at home, it is essential to learn back-friendly behaviour in everyday life. In addition, drug-based pain therapy is important.

Drugs such as ibuprofen and diclofenac not only relieve pain but also have an anti-inflammatory effect and can thus help the irritated nerves to recover. Local pain and thermotherapy can also be helpful. A flickering of the eyes, which is caused by the thyroid gland, indicates a malfunction of the thyroid glands.

Thus, an underfunction can regulate the circulation down. This can lead to visual disturbances including eye flickering as a result of short-term circulatory problems. An overactive thyroid gland, on the other hand, is associated with higher muscle tension and better nerve excitability.

Thus, eye flickering can occur due to tension but also due to small false stimuli of the nerves. If the thyroid gland function is permanently poorly adjusted, the increased or insufficient amount of hormones can also cause permanent damage to the eye, which can also lead to eye flickering. Hypoglycaemia is a short-term reduction in the supply of sugar molecules in the blood.

This can occur if an affected person has not eaten for a long period of time. Blood sugar disorders (diabetes) can also lead to hypoglycaemia, among other things, due to poor adjustment. The reduced supply of the nutrient sugar in the blood can lead to eye disorders such as flickering eyes.

Circulatory regulation also plays an important role in hypoglycaemia. In addition, the brain is particularly dependent on a constant supply of sugar. In the case of hypoglycaemia, therefore, malfunctions in the brain can also lead to flickering eyes. You can find more information on this topic at Hypoglycemia.