Why you’re seeing stars in your vision
There are two main causes of seeing stars in your vision. One is the result of a blow to your head. This type of injury can scatter nerve signals in your brain and affect your vision temporarily.
The other cause is a problem with your retina. If that’s the reason, it can be triggered by something other than an injury.
In some cases, pregnant women may experience an increased number of floaters, likely due to high blood pressure or elevated glucose levels. Floaters are tiny cloudy spots that seem to drift in and out of your field of vision. They’re actually little clumps of vitreous gel floating inside your eye. Rarely, they can be caused by other conditions, including:
poorly controlled blood pressure
blood clots in the retinal blood vessels, which are blood vessels that carry blood to your retina
viral infections in your eye
normal complications from eye surgery
autoimmune diseases like lupus
Your brain is made up of four main sections, or lobes. The occipital lobe is in the back of your brain. It’s responsible for interpreting the nerve signals from your eye. If you’re looking at a tree, your retina converts that image of a tree into nerve signals that travel from the retina through the optical nerve to the brain. Your occipital lobe processes those signals so your brain recognizes that image as a tree.
If you get hit on the head, the tissue in your occipital lobe gets shaken up. Brain cells then send out random electrical impulses, which your brain interprets as flashes of light that may seem like stars.
Anatomy of the eye
It doesn’t always take a bump on the head to get stars into your field of vision. To understand why, it helps to know a little more about the anatomy of your eye.
The retina is a thin tissue layer at the back of your eye that is light sensitive. The part of your eyeball directly in front of the retina contains vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps your eye keep its shape. There are also tiny, very thin fibers in the vitreous. When these fibers pull on your retina or the gel rubs against your retina, you may see stars.
If your retina gets pulled too hard or moves out of its usual position, the result can be a retinal detachment. This can cause you to see stars. It can also cause you to lose all or part of your vision in that eye. A detached retina can often be treated successfully with surgery.
One other cause of stars in your vision is a migraine headache. Not everyone who suffers from migraines sees stars or colorful lights, which are also known as aura, but many people do. If you see stars or jagged streaks of light, but don’t have a headache, you may have ocular migraines. These are treated by ophthalmologists, doctors specializing in eye health.
Flashes and floaters as symptoms
Traditional migraine headaches, as well as a blow to the head, can give you a lingering pain in your head to go with your starry visions. If a retinal detachment is to blame, you may see floaters along with flashes. Floaters usually don’t indicate a problem with your eye health. If you notice that you’re seeing them more often, tell your eye doctor. A detached retina can also make it seem as though a curtain is being drawn over your vision in the affected eye.
If you see occasional stars, but have no other symptoms or vision problems, you’re probably fine. But at your next eye appointment, tell your doctor how often you see flashes or floaters. Also report if you’ve had any injuries, such as a fall or something striking your head.