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Seeing Starbursts

On Health & Drugs & Medications » Optical & Eye Health

22,923 words with 13 Comments; publish: Fri, 14 Dec 2007 13:59:00 GMT; (90093.75, « »)

My problem with starbursts around lights seems to be getting much worse. Now I see starbursts around any bright reflection or light especially if sunlight reflects on cars. The only thing that makes a difference is if I hold my eyes wide open. The starbursts disappear for the most. I thought the problem may be due to my eyelashes. I have long eyelashes, but never gave them a second thought until now. It looks like my lashes are slanting down into my field of view. Could it be that the lashes are causing the starburst rays? Again, I saw another eye specialist who could offer no solutions, or even an explanation to the problem. It is more than annoying at this point. Why is the medical community ignoring this bothersome issue??

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    • I have that problem. It started two years ago as double vision in my right eye. Until that happened, I had NEVER heard of double vision in one eye since it seemed obvious to me you would need two eyes for this to happen. Then I began seeing star bursts in that eye. Now it's happened to my left eye, also. It began this summer...the same thing, with the double vision (with right eye closed, I saw it in my left eye) and then the starbursts began soon after. My left eye impairment progressed more rapidly than the right eye. I can't drive at night (I CAN in an emergency, but it's difficult) because as cars approach, the headlights diffuse (for lack of better term) and "take over" my field of vision; where in normal eyesight, the light would remain on the side, mine would burst out to fill my entire field of vision. This causes my entire vision to be temporarily "blinded" (like the picture flash effect?) and then my vision slowly emerges. During this time, I'm just guessing where the road is. My night vision in itself is also impared, but I'm not sure if it's because of all the lights flaring (like when getting up at night, the room is darker after you come out of the bathroom). I'm not sure.

      The eye doctor calls it Corneal Dystrophy, but he hasn't said much about it. He doesn't seem to find it important to do surgery until I am blind as a bat. So, if you see someone driving with a white cane stuck out the window, that would be me.

      I've noticed a strange thing: In our family we kinda get goofy with the kids. One day back when only my right eye was impaired, we were playing around and I was looking at the TV through a soda cracker hole. (I'm not at the strange part of the story yet). Anyway, while I was doing that, I noticed I could see pretty normal. The true test was looking at a bright spot of light, like the power light on the stereo, or the digital lights on the clock (the starburst is much more noticable when a light or even white text is against a dark background). Sure enough, I could see clearer. I took the cracker away and the bad vision returned. I can't go through life wearing soda crackers over my eyes. People would talk. When I tried describing this to the doctor, he politely nodded and glanced over at my husband, who was picking dog hairs off his clothes. He didn't say much. I'm not sure if he understood what I was saying. However, after my soda cracker hole discovery, I noticed that I can get the same effect without the cracker, by placing my finger horizontaly over the top half of my eyes. This is difficult to explain, so you may not understand. But, when you bring an object close to your eyes, they begin to blur. when I look through the "blur" of the bottom of that object, things look much clearer. Here's my theory: Because I have a bubble on my cornea and the light bounces off twice from the top part of the cornea (bubble) and the bottom part (I think the cornea has several layers and fluid builds up between them). So, that, along with the abrasions developed (which cause the starburst) causes the light to appear in more than one area of my vision. To look through the blur of the bottom of an object seems to shade the light from bouncing off all the abnormalties of my eye. That's my theory, anyway. Wearing a baseball hat doesn't work. The object has to be directly over my eyes. This obstructs my view somewhat, AND my eyes move side to side and up and down, so nothing would be practical unless I always looked straight ahead, or taped the cracker directly to my eyeball (which I would never recommend). But, knowing this helps me in my business, anyway when I temporarily need to see what others are seeing (I use my fingers instead of a cracker...it's much more professional).

      Did the doctor do a split lamp test? Did he put dye in your eyes to look for an abnormalty on your cornea? I have to say, I went to an optometrist, first and he couldn't see what my problem was at first glance. He even argued that I was seeing double. He was trying to convince me I had blurred vision and not double vision and that I just needed glasses. I know what blurred vision is. Anyone who has had to take an eyetest at a public school using a folded stiff, brown, government-issued paper towel covering the closed eye in the 70s knows what blurred vision is. So, I argued with him and he checked a second time and then after looking closely at my cornea a third time, he apologised and said, "I believe you ARE seeing double vision in that eye...you seem to have a bubble on your cornea". He said it looked like (sorry, this is gross) clear eye pus, but when he kept telling me to blink, it wouldn't move, even after several rapid blinks. But, when I went to my first opthamologist, he caught it after looking hard. After it began in the second eye, I wanted a second opinion. This second opthamologist (a corneal specialist who recently moved here from Florida) saw it in both eyes right away. He agreed with the first diagnosis...Corneal Dystrophy. He told me it's heriditary, but my parents deny this happening with anyone in either family.

      So, if you're only seeing an optometrist, try to find an opthamologist...one who specializes in corneas. It sounds like you may have scratched your cornea or have a corneal dystrophy.

      It sure makes the Christmas tree pretty, though, doesn't it? Still, Christmas doesn't last forever, and then it just gets very annoying when you don't want to see the pretty starbursts. I hope you find the root of the problem soon.

      Sorry this post is so long. I'm not sure if you can even relate. But, I hope I was somewhat helpful. Whatever you decide, try not to put it off for long. Sometimes something like this can be repaired if treated immediately. But, I dunno. I'm not a doctor. I just pay one in real life. :)

      #1; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:15:00 GMT
    • What exactly is a "starburst"? I'm familiar with floaters, but I've never heard of this. Can you describe what starbursts look like?
      #2; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:16:00 GMT
    • Basically what TV and cartoons portray lights as. They have streaks of light shooting from the center of the light, as if someone took a paintbrush and drew lines from the center out. But instead of one line spaced evenly around the light (or light reflection) as on tv or drawings, there are several lines and they aren't so even. Some are longer than others and sometimes one side is longer than another.

      Mine are never the same. Sometimes the lines are going one direction and sometimes another. Many times I see little halos under the lights (not around the lights), and neither the streaks nor the halos are even in both the eyes. I have "good" days (meaning the streaking isn't as many or as far from the lights) and I have bad (meaning there's streaking, double vision and bluriness in both eyes). Also, the streaks change when I move my eyes or head (angle of view) and even when I'm looking straight on, they change each time I blink. They get shorter as I get closer to the light, longer as I get further away. But in each eye, all the lights have the same kind of streaks at each moment I see them, going the same direction. If they change directions, they all change directions in that eye. If one light has 7 streaks at 7:00, 4 streaks at 12:00, 5 streaks at 5:00 and small streaks all around the light...then all the lights and reflections appear the exact same way, unless the light is different in size. But the basic pattern is still there. The halos are largest after I blink and then shrink. Blink, get large, and shrink (the streaks don't seem to change, though). I also see a very odd shaped floater in the front of my eye occasionally. One time the floater in my right eye was shaped like a backward question mark, but it's changed since then. They don't seem to maintain a stable shape. I have several small floaters in my left eye I see every time I think about them (and sometimes when I don't). But the large ones appear occasionally on their own, usually in the day when riding in the car with a clear blue sky.

      I can go into Photoshop and try to draw a simulation of the starburst if that would help. But, I'm going to bed soon, so I'll do it when I get up if you're interested. I'll try to keep the filesize down low. I'm not Australian, I'm American (in case you're wondering about my hours). The main reason I stay up all night is it's easier on my eyes than staying up all day when light is reflecting off of everything, even though it's more noticeable at night. I think the reason it's not as noticeable at day is because there IS so much light and everything is reflecting off of everything. Like a candle being more noticeable at night than day. I'm taking Alpha Lipoic Acid for my eyesight, but it doesn't seem like it's helping. I may increase it to see what happens, but I'm not hopeful.

      #3; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:17:00 GMT
    • Old Lady:

      Have you ever heard of pinhole glasses?

      "...pinhole glasses consist of precision-manufactured lightweight perforated plastic lenses, inset into standard metal or plastic spectacle frames. They are ideal for sufferers of refractive eye disorders, the elderly and computer users as the pinholes - accurately formed by laser technology - allow only direct and coherent light rays to pass through into the eye."

      Do a search and you'll get lots of info (we can't post URLs). They'd be better than crackers if you're out in the rain.


      #4; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:18:00 GMT
    • This is kind of weird. The way you describe starbursts sounds almost exactly like what I've had all my life. I have some floaters, but that only started hapening recently, but even when I was a kid I could see little narrow lines extending from light sources. When I was bored I would look at a source and squint and unsquint my eyes so I could see the lines extend and go back in, etc. I only recently began to wonder if this was normal or not, but I never realized there was a name for this. A photoshop picture would be really nice so I can see if this is really what I have. Are there any websites that have information about what causes these?
      #5; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:19:00 GMT
    • Kiwi, this is a site that I can post since it's an organization: http://www.fuchs-dystrophy.org/telltheworld.html

      My doctor didn't use the word "Fuch's", but I have all the symptoms, including the pain in the eye. It hasn't happened to the left eye, yet, but the right eye occasionally feels like someone is dropping hot glue on my eye nad then ripping it back off again. This happens in the morning, but not every morning. In fact, it's been a couple months since that has happened. I'm on a pain medication for another health problem, so that could be why I'm not experiencing as much pain lately.

      I've read that you can use a blow dryer (for hair) at arms length on your eyes and it should dry up some of the moisture, but that doesn't work for me. I haven't given it much of a chance, though, I admit. The air blowing in my eyes hurt, so I try to refrain from that method.

      I haven't worked on the example, yet, but I'll do that next. I was checking out websites on Torre's pinhole glasses. Torre, that's strange. I haven't heard of them, but I have been using something similar to that, although I only focus through one hole instead of many. Are you familiar with the rubber mats they have out now that are placed under things to keep stuff from moving? I cut a strip to fit behind glasses with the plastic punched out and the stems stuck through the holes to hold it in place. In my case, I think this would work better for me since they mold to my face, are close to my eyes and would probably be more comfortable than the pinhole glasses. Plus, I can adjust the rubber mat to be placed in the center of my vision. I would think the pinhole glasses would have to be custom-made since everyone's eyes are spaced differently, so the holes may not be directly in front of both eyes on many people. But I may be misunderstanding why they use the pinholes. Maybe they intend for people to look through a hole using only one eye or the other. But I'm using this mat so I'm constantly looking through the "blur" of the mat and I need to use both eyes. But I have to say I really am surprised they have those out. Thanks for the advise on pinhole glasses. After seeing those, I think I'm going to buy some black truck liner instead of the 'dusty blue' shelving I'm using now. It's thicker and will probably work better since it's black. I don't wear this outside the house. The crackers work better. I can explain them away by insisting in a surprised tone of voice that I didn't know they were there and that my husband is a messy eater.

      Seriously, I only need it for the computer and TV. I just read the first page of the above posted website and can now understand why the doctor doesn't see it necessary for surgery just yet. I do experience occasional cloudiness, but it's not nearly as extensive as the description on that page, and it doesn't involve my entire field of vision. Only in certain spots. At the most, I have to say that as bad as the starbursts are, I would describe this right now-at the worst-as very VERY annoying. But it's a big difference from the perfect 20/20 I had before this. It's even more annoying after using the rubber mat for a while and then taking it off. In fact, it was much more obvious before it effected my left eye, since I had that to compare it with. Now with both eyes effected, it's not as annoying, and on my good days, I don't even notice it until I use the matting. It's funny how the brain can cause you to adapt to change like that. I can't drive at night, but that's the only real limitation right now, that I can think of. OH! And another thing I forgot to mention was that I can't drive in the rain or after it has rained, either. The rain causes all kinds of reflections on the road. Especially since they made the 'headlights with wipers' law. I also get ticked at these people who wash their cars. LOL! Do the world a favor and let your cars get dusty. :)

      Kiwi, I'll get on that starburst image, so you can see what I'm talking about.

      #6; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:20:00 GMT
    • Kiwi, I was just reading some of the website I posted and there is an example of the starburst on one of the pages. http://www.fuchs-dystrophy.org/ourview.html

      But, mine isn't anything like that (it is, sortof, but the lines aren't evenly spaced or evenly lengthed like they are showing). One thing that alarmed me, though was in the picture comparisons, the top ones looked fuzzy, but the bottom ones didn't look much different. When I looked through the blur holes on the mat, I could see what they were talking about.

      #7; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:21:00 GMT
    • Old Lady:

      As far as I know the pinhole glasses dont have to be custom-made because you look through multiple holes. I guess the effect is you see the whole image without the refraction, and your brain kind of blocks out the area between the holes like looking through a window screen. I don't think they are expensive and would be worth a try.


      #8; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:22:00 GMT
    • True. In fact, one site promises a refund if we aren't happy.

      I went out today (yesterday, actually) and purchased a black mat (it's called a "toolbox liner") and I had doubts whether this was even going to work since the holes are bigger than the one I was using, but after I cut it out to my size, I discovered that it works even better than the blue one. Even though the holes in the black one are larger, they are rectangular and more evenly spaced than the blue one. The blue one had small holes and smaller holes alternating, like a design. The black one has holes evenly spaced and it works great. So, even though the pinhole glasses may only cost roughly around $20 apiece, I got an entire 2 yards of this stuff, which is the equivilant of dozens of the pinhole glasses. Does this work as well as the pinhole glasses? I can't say because I've never used the pinhole glasses. But this works great for me, and it works a lot better than the blue stuff I was using.

      If the pinhole glasses could be worn outside, like for driving, and it worked, then I would consider purchasing them. But, they tell you on their site that they shouldn't be worn for moving around and I only wear this when using the computer and watching TV, anyway. It cuts down tremendously on the flares and double vision.

      Your suggestion was still very helpful, though, Torre. without it, I'd still be using the blue stuff. :)

      #9; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:23:00 GMT
    • Lady,

      Thanks for sharing your story. For those wanting to know what starbursts look like, I found this site:


      I have halos and starbursts exactly as seen in those pictures. I've also tried the pinhole test, and my vision looks normal around lights when I do this.

      Do you get distortion only around streetlights and headlights or other light sources? Thankfully, street signs, buildings, neon lights, and christmas lights look normal to me.

      I've noticed when driving at night, one set of traffic signals will be heavily distorted, and another set looks normal.

      I have been seeing opthomologists, but the nearest corneal specialist lives in Houston. It is interesting that you mention corneal dystrophy. Two months after I started seeing halos and starbursts, I started having corneal erosions in my right eye which I believe is a sign of corneal dystrophy.

      #10; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:24:00 GMT
    • I'm seeing a problem with all lights and reflections. I was prescribed some glasses from my latest opthamologist, but I didn't buy the glasses because my ability to read the letters was distorted by my corneas, which change from day-to-day, not my "normal eyesight" vision. If I were to take in the mat I use to the doctors, I would bet my car that I could read 20/20. I already purchased one pair prescribed by my optometrist and they only helped with the 2Xvision but it didn't take long before they were useless to me. They no longer helped the 2xvision and they were always blurrier than my own eyesight. I think that's why they originally helped with the 2Xvision, though. The next visit to the optometrist, he changed the prescription and the only reason I got them was because it was "free" for changing. But, by the time I got those back, they weren't helping the 2Xvision or the "farsightedness" (which I don't have). But he was basing it all on my ability to see with corneal damage. That's like prescribing a hearing aide for someone with built-up wax in their ears. Cure the wax problem and THEN see if the hearing aide is necessary. Only I can't just remove my corneas.

      The whole thing began years ago when I had problems seeing in the dark. There was no glare or single-eye-2Xvision at the time and my vision was 20/20. He told me then that I had "nocturnal Myopia", but since my vision was 20/20, he didn't do anything about it. I still drove then, occasionally, but I missed turns easily because I wouldn't see them until I came right up on them.

      #11; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:25:00 GMT
    • i have a question regarding this. is it possible for starburts to be associated with astigmatism? the eye doctor said i have astigmatism, but i also have the starbursts once in a while. but then my vision has gone to heck lately.
      #12; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:26:00 GMT
    • I don't think this is related to astigmatism, but I'm not a doctor and I could be wrong.

      My doctor asked me at my last visit if there were any other family members diagnosed with Corneal Dystrophy, and I told him that my sister was diagnosed with astigmatism when she was a teen. He replied, "well, yeah, you have astigmatism, too. But, you also have Corneal Dystrophy". The way he was talking, it seemed that the astigmatism was unrelated to the starbursts. And he seemed to say it in such a matter-of-factly way that he may as well have said, "yeah, you have brown eyelashes, too". It didn't seem important, so I'm not worried about it.

      However, even though I'm not worried about it, I was actually shocked that I even had astigmatism. From my uneducated understanding, astigmatism is an oval shaped eye instead of a round one, and you are born with this (don't quote me, but feel free to correct me). I didn't look this up to confirm one way or another, but just saying what my idea of astigmatism has always been been. The day my sister was diagnosed, she was prescribed glasses.

      My sister can't wear contacts and my doctor wouldn't prescribe them to me, either (though, he didn't specify whether it was because of the astigmatism or CD). But, up until this happened with my corneas, I had perfect (above perfect) vision.The annoying thing about all this is that both doctors try to prescribe glasses based on my vision with the CD, so the prescription changes according to how bad the CD is. Without it, I still have 20/20 vision. So, I refuse to get the prescription filled.

      But, my sister doesn't claim to have starbursts. My parents claimed they didn't either, but when I was up last week visiting, I asked them both if they saw starbursts. My mother says she doesn't see them, but my father said, "Sure! But, that's what you're SUPPOSED to see." I think I got this from his genes, if it is inherited.

      TV seems to show starbursts quite a bit for a beautifying effect, so I think people who have always seen this don't seem to realize it isn't supposed to be happening.

      #13; Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:27:00 GMT