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4 Causes Of Seeing Stars In Vision

About Seeing Stars in Vision:

It may be quite scary when someone sees stars or flashes in vision out of the blue for the first time. Many people acknowledge that they see stars in the vision every now and then especially if they fall down or get knocked out. These flashes may look like the camera flashing or lightning bolts. This vision disturbance is quite common and does not have a serious cause behind it. It is actually quite harmless to see stars in vision once in a while. However, if these episodes become too frequent and have a sudden onset then it is always better to seek an ophthalmologic consultation to get to the root cause of it [1].

An individual sees stars in vision as a result of some problem with the retina or the brain. In most cases, stars in the vision are caused due to inflammation in the retina. The function of the retina is to send message to the brain when light falls on it. The retina is protected by the vitreous gel present in front of it. If this gel shrinks or the retina gets inflamed due to some reason, it starts transmitting signals to the brain which it perceives as light even though there is no source of light falling on the retina. This is what causes the individual to see flashing lights or “Stars in Vision.” [1]

On the part of the brain, it gets signal from the retina in the form of electrical impulses. If for some reason, there is a problem with the brain in receiving or interpreting these impulses then also people may see “Stars in Vision.” Read below to know the 4 most common causes as to why one sees Stars in Vision.

4 Causes Of Why You See Stars In Vision

4 Causes Of Why You See Stars In Vision

The 4 most common causes for Stars in Vision include:

  1. Head Trauma: This is perhaps the most common cause as to why one sees stars in the vision. It happens when someone has a hard fall and the brain hits the skull and rebounds. A high impact collision can also result in the brain having the same effect with resultant stars in the vision [1]. To explain it medically, the back half of the brain has the occipital lobe. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for processing visual information. When someone suffers a hard fall or gets knocked in the head by a hard object, the area transmits signals which it perceives as light. This is what causes stars in the vision. This can also occur if the eyes get hit by a blow or an object like a ball. In this case, it is the retina which gets affected and sends signals to the brain perceiving light [1].
  2. Migraines: This is yet another cause for seeing stars in vision. Migraine headache is known to cause alteration in vision termed as aura where people see sparkles of light in their field of vision which may appear as stars. This may occur in one or both eyes and the reason behind this is believed to be alteration of electrical impulses sent to the brain by the eyes. If these visual changes occur prior to the onset of headaches then it is termed as migraine with aura [1]. There are many cases where a typical aura is not followed by a headache. Retinal migraines are the most common form of migraine disorder that causes the affected individual to see stars in the vision. Retinal migraines are rare but require help of a physician to manage it. Other than stars in the vision, people with retinal migraines also experience photo and phono sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, and at times dizziness [1].
  3. Movement of Vitreous Gel: This is also one of the causes of seeing stars in the vision. The function of the vitreous gel is to protect the retina. If there is movement in the gel it at times pulls the retina along with it. This results in the retina sending signals to the brain of perceiving light. This is what results in stars in vision [1]. Movement of the vitreous gel normally happens in the elderly population and is a completely harmless condition [1].
  4. Retinal Detachment: This is one of the rare instances where stars in the vision can be deemed as just a little bit serious. Retinal detachment occurs when the vitreous gel protecting the retina moves taking along with it a portion of the retina. This may cause the retina to get detached from the back of the eye or may even tear the retina. Along with stars in the vision, an individual with a detached retina will see floaters in the vision and will have blurred or double vision. There may also be partial or complete loss of peripheral vision in some cases [1].

There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of having a retinal detachment. These factors include age above 40, having a family history of this condition, a prior history of retinal detachment, having a history of a cataract surgery, having a history of an injury or trauma to the eye. A detached retina requires emergent medical care and necessitates surgical correction. If left untreated, it may lead to blindness [1].

In conclusion, seeing stars in the vision is quite a harmless phenomenon that occurs once in a while. This is either due to the retina sending false message to the brain about perceiving light or the brain interpreting electrical impulses from the retina wrongly. This happens mostly after a hard fall on the head or being struck by a heavy blow. Being hit on the eye also at times causes people to see stars in the vision [1].

Movement of the vitreous gel also at times results in stars in the vision. This at times may lead to the retina getting detached from the back portion of the eye or getting torn. This is one of the more serious causes of seeing stars in the vision and requires surgical correction. Thus it is recommended that seeing stars in vision too frequently need to be checked by an ophthalmologist and if required treatment needs to be provided to get rid of it [1].


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 2, 2022

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