White vision is often benign, but can signal cardiac or other conditions

White vision is often benign, but can signal cardiac or other conditions


If you’ve ever had your vision go “white” (or “gray”), you’ve probably felt a little unsettled by the experience.

“You’ll see a bright light and your vision will fade,” he says Terry K Geisttrustee of the American Optometric Association.

As worrisome as they are, vision whites are usually benign. Making sure, however, means talking to a doctor or optometrist. Before you do that, consider a few things.

Common causes of bleaching

If you have recurrent sclera, counting their duration in real time can help you get the correct diagnosis. Note any specific details that the white colors seem to have in common. Do they happen immediately after you get up from a chair, for example? Most often, bleaching occurs when a person is ready to pass out due to a sudden drop in blood pressure. About 1 in 3 people will pass out at some point in your life.

“Fainting can be benign if it’s associated with sudden stress,” he says Sarah Thornton, neuro-ophthalmologist at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. “Getting up too quickly, overexerting yourself, being dehydrated or taking certain medications can also lead to hypotension – low blood pressure – and potentially, bleaching.”

Many children do not get the necessary vision screening

A less common risk: “Bleach can occur with changes in G force,” Geist says, for example, in a car accident or on a roller coaster. AND whitening caused by physical stress or exertion will disappear in just a few minutes.

Connection with more serious conditions?

Although fainting is usually benign, always tell your doctor if you’ve fainted—occasionally, fainting and fainting are associated with something serious.

“In the background of heart disease, such as aortic stenosisit can cause symptoms of fainting, including whiteness,” he says Dean M. Cestari, neuro-ophthalmologist at Mass General Brigham Mass Eye and Ear in Boston and associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. Other such conditions may include arrhythmias, heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

White spots can also have neurological implications. “Transient visual blackouts, also known as TVOs, last seconds”, says Cestari. “They can appear as flashes of white light and cause vision loss. DVTs are caused by swelling of the optic nerve and can happen when you change position, say standing up quickly.”

TVO is a symptom papilledema, a rare swelling of the optic disc caused by increased intracranial pressure (ICP). ICP can be caused by brain tumors or bleeding.

AND retinal ablation is another possibility. “If you have any kind of new-onset vision loss where you’re seeing flashes of light, which you might think are bleaching, plus floaters, see an eye doctor to rule that out,” Cestari says. “Or if they happen suddenly, go to the emergency room.”

Stay flexible and healthy as you age

But sclera usually isn’t associated with strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), says Eric R. Eggenberger, an ophthalmologist and neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

“In general, stroke-type events cause a sudden, painless onset and pure blackout or loss of vision, often affecting the upper or lower half of the visual field in only one eye,” says Eggenberger. “In contrast, whitewash usually involves both eyes and begins in a 360-degree peripheral pattern with a slower progressive narrowing toward the center of your vision.”

Keep notes on the time and duration of the bleaching

To help your doctor determine the exact cause of the whites, try to determine if only one eye is affected. It may not be immediately apparent.

“Closing one eye is actually what you should do if you have sudden vision loss – close the eye you think is affected. You can cover your eye, but it’s best to close it, so you don’t spread your fingers and don’t cover anything,” says Cestari. “Then see what you see with the other eye. If everything looks normal, you have lost vision in the eye you closed and you can tell your doctor that you have lost vision in that one eye. If everything looks strange, you have also lost vision in your right eye. Knowing this information can help your doctor determine the cause.”

Again, record how long the bleach lasted as accurately as possible.

It is always worth consulting an optometrist or ophthalmologist or your primary care physician after bleaching. “Discuss the episode, along with any other symptoms you may have experienced, to help determine the underlying cause and identify appropriate treatment, if necessary,” adds Geist.


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