Causes of Transient Vision Loss

Causes of Transient Vision Loss

Have you ever had temporary bouts of sudden vision loss? If you have, you aren’t alone. Transient vision loss can be caused by many different internal and external factors.

Losing your eyesight suddenly, even if just temporarily, can be extremely alarming. Though your vision will likely return within half an hour to an hour, finding the underlining cause of transient vision loss can be difficult.

But, if you find out what is causing it, you can prevent it from happening again. In some cases, transient vision loss can actually be a symptom of a disease. If you experience temporary loss of vision, even for just a half hour, talk to your eye doctor about it to pinpoint the exact cause.

What Is Transient Vision Loss?

Transient vision loss can happen to almost anyone and it can come on very suddenly. There are no warning signs when it hits. Generally this vision loss will last between 30 minutes to an hour and is often nothing to be worried about.

Your vision will return slowly, but it will return in full in time. Give your eyes a day to revert back to normal after experiencing temporary blindness.

Transient vision loss is common in adults and can be caused by a number of things. In children, it is often caused by something benign and is not something to be worried about. However, sometimes it can be caused by seizures and migraines in children.

Transient vision loss doesn’t always affect both eyes. Sometimes only one eye will be affected. The degree of vision loss depends on the cause.

Signs and Symptoms

A pretty obvious sign is a sudden loss of vision. However, there are other signs and symptoms that you should be aware of. When we start to lose our vision, we always assume the worst. When transient vision loss strikes, take a deep breath and relax. There’s nothing to worry about.

Causes of Transient Vision Loss

Migraines or very strong headaches are often associated with transient vision loss because it’s often caused by pressure in the eye. Right before the migraines begin you’ll start seeing, or rather not seeing, your first symptoms.

Transient vision loss is progressive. It starts with blurred vision. Your vision will blur quickly. No matter how many times you try to blink your eyes back to normal, your vision will only continue to recede.

The next stage of symptoms includes zig-zagging light. Light sources will look like they’re zig-zagging all over the place even if you are standing still. Following this unwanted light show is a migraine of headache.

Whether the speeding lights are causing this discomfort or the pressure in the eye is not entirely known. Experts are split; but everyone seems to agree than neither erratic lights nor high intraocular pressure is helping the headaches.

Finally, your vision will go mostly dark. It’ll be a strange feeling for someone who is used to being able to see clearly. The best thing to do is get yourself someplace safe if you aren’t at home and just ride it out. Symptoms should subside and your vision should begin to come back slowly.

Once it starts to come back, make an appointment with your eye doctor so you don’t forget! Even something as harmless as transient vision loss needs to be diagnosed and assessed by your doctor.

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What exactly causes transient vision loss? The answer isn’t so clean cut. Most of the time the cause will depend on the person and their current vision health.

When you visit the doctor after a transient vision loss episode, your symptoms will be long gone. Therefore, your doctor must rely on a set of questions to figure out exactly what happened. Diagnosing transient vision loss and its cause will depend on your answers to the questions.

Optic Nerve Swelling

Transient vision loss is most often caused by high intracranial pressure. When the pressure in the skull is too high, it can cause your optic nerve to swell. When the optic nerve becomes swollen it affects the quality of information being sent from the eye to the brain.

As opposed to some other causes, optic nerve swelling only causes vision loss for a few seconds. If you experience only a few seconds of temporary vision loss, you should still call your doctor. Your doctor will take scans to make sure that the swelling was not a more serious brain condition or injury.

Not Enough Blood Flow

Another cause for transient vision loss is not having adequate blood flow to the eyes. People often underestimate the importance of blood flow in the eye. Without a steady flow, our vision can’t work efficiently. It also weakens our eyes and makes them vulnerable.

People with vascular problems like low blood pressure, heart disease, blood clots and other blood disorders will be prone to transient vision loss. This vision loss can be avoided by ensuring proper blood circulation. Acupressure can be a relaxing way to promote healthy blood circulation in and around the eyes.

If you have vascular problems, keep them in check. If you have a family history of them or are at risk, talk to your doctor about managing your blood circulation.


Migraines are awful and can cause the worst type of transient vision loss. When you lose your vision due to migraines, you may be looking at an hour of vision loss.

Transient vision loss due to migraines in more common is younger people. After the age of 40, your chances of experiencing migraine-related vision loss drops significantly. That’s why when younger adults and children experience temporary vision loss, it is often due to migraines.

Temporary vision loss for the most part is nothing to worry about, but sometimes it can be caused by an underlying condition such as a stroke, diabetes or retinal detachment.

Even if your vision returns to normal after an encounter with transient vision loss, have your doctor evaluate your eyes and general health.

About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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One response to “Causes of Transient Vision Loss”

  1. Avatar for Harvey Harvey says:

    I read where a lady was having problems with her sight and floaters in her eyes I think she said due to diabetic retinopathy. She took biocell collagen and she said that her eyes started to clear and heal within a couple of weeks. Personally I had floaters in first my left and then my left eye Both times I got lasered and problem cleared. I have my blood tested on serveral occasions and am not diabetic. but I believe prediabetic. I had perephial neuropathy. on my throat for about two weeks, then it cleared and and left forearm. I got some relief using aloe vera gel, and hemp cream. I also developed foot ulcers on my right foot around two years ago and went 3 times a week for a full year. I used a lot of vitamin E, topically and internal. Miraculously it all healed and looks a little discolored still. I have been taking all the various eye supplements etc. and also for my blood sugar control.. Have drastically reduced my carb & sugar intake, bad foods etc, getting lots of sleep, lift weights etc. Presently went for about a year and started getting floaters in my right eye. got bad but started to clear and on my check up with my eye doctor , he said there is some bleeding there and am going back in 3 months. My left eye is clear as a bell, and I can see quite good with my right and floaters slowly getting better. I am avoiding surgery and believe my body can heal. Still have some numbness & tingling in both feet, Am not overweight and in great shape, but it is said that even 5 lbs of fat in midsection is enough to indicate fat in liver and interfere with insulin and glucose damage to nerve cells etc. I know this is lengthy, and you cannot prescribe etc, but your opinion is still valuable. i think I am going to try the collagen It is hydrolyzed chicken collagen type !! with chondrotin sulfate. I am 76 years of age and have never worn glasses. 20/20 vision. I am a health nut. 6 ft , 180 muscular lbs. Have you heard about the collagen and experiences?? I am on your email list.

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