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Why Am I Seeing Shadows in My Peripheral Vision?

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A point-of-view of someone with eye floaters looking at the sky.

Noticing shadows or dark spots in your peripheral vision can be an alarming visual disturbance and may even interfere with your daily activities. Don’t worry. You’re not alone in this. Many people experience this phenomenon, but few are aware of the causes behind it.

Some possible reasons behind seeing shadows in your peripheral vision include: 

  • Eye floaters
  • Migraine aura
  • Retinal detachment
  • Posterior vitreous detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Retinal infection 

Other factors, such as stress, can also cause shadows in your peripheral vision. 

Some of these reasons should be treated as an eye emergency, and in these situations, your best course of action is to get an eye exam without delay to determine the exact cause of your discomfort.

Eye emergencies are no joke and need prompt attention. If you or a family member find yourselves in such a situation, don’t hesitate to contact Total Vision Chino Hills. We’re here to help.

However, don’t wait around if we’re not open when you need us. Head straight to an emergency care center. Your eyesight is too important to risk.

So, take a deep breath and let’s dive into the world of peripheral vision shadows!

Eye Floaters 

The first and most common cause of peripheral vision shadows is eye floaters. These are specks or strands that drift through the field of vision. 

Eye floaters are usually harmless and can be attributed to the eye’s natural aging. However, they can be annoying at times. 

If you see more floaters than usual, see your eye doctor to rule out any eye damage or other causes.

Migraine Aura 

Another reason behind the shadows in your peripheral vision could be a migraine aura. During a migraine attack, you may notice certain changes in your vision, such as flashing lights, zigzag patterns, or blind spots. 

These visual symptoms typically last for 5-60 minutes and disappear after the headache sets in. Avoid triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, or stress if you’re prone to migraines.

Retinal Detachment

Shadows could signify a retinal detachment if you notice sudden light flashes, a shadow spreading sideways, or a curtain falling over your vision. 

This is a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention. If left untreated, it may lead to permanent vision loss

So, consult an eye doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment

Posterior Vitreous Detachment, or PVD, is when the gel-like substance in your eye, known as the vitreous humor, starts to pull away from the retina. It’s a common part of aging, but it can feel strange when it happens. 

Should you get an eye exam for it? Well, sometimes, when the vitreous humor pulls away, it can cause small tears or holes in the retina. And that’s not something you’d want to ignore! 

An eye exam can help spot these issues early on so you can get the treatment you need right away.


Peripheral vision loss may also be a sign of glaucoma, a condition where the optic nerve gets damaged over time, leading to vision loss or blindness. 

Glaucoma typically develops slowly and is often symptom-free in its early stages, making it difficult to detect. It’s important to get regular eye exams to ensure that you’re not at risk.

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease is when the major blood vessels that supply your brain with blood become narrow or blocked. It’s usually because of plaque build-up, a process called atherosclerosis.

This sticky stuff is made up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances and can gum up your insides. If it gets bad enough, it can lead to a stroke, which is why it’s so important to get checked out by a health professional if you notice shadows or a veil across your vision.

Retinal Infection

Cytomegalovirus Retinitis, or CMV Retinitis for short, is when a virus called Cytomegalovirus attacks the retina in your eyes. 

This virus primarily affects individuals with weakened immune systems, like those with HIV/AIDS. Those affected by CMV Retinitis can experience some serious damage, including blindness. That’s why catching it early and treating it fast is super important.

An anxious-looking young man sitting on a couch while in deep thought.

Other Factors 

Other factors such as stress, fatigue, anxiety, or optical illusion can also cause shadows or dark spots in your peripheral vision. 

These causes are relatively harmless and can be remedied by rest and avoiding triggers.

Understanding Shadows in Your Peripheral Vision

Seeing shadows in your peripheral vision can be an unnerving experience. However, don’t panic, as it can be attributed to various harmless reasons. 

If you experience this phenomenon, identify the cause with an eye exam and take the necessary steps to alleviate the issue. 

It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your eyes, so don’t hesitate to consult your eye doctor at Crum Optometric Group now operated by Total Vision if you have any concerns. Book your appointment today

Take care of your eyes and enjoy the world with clear, healthy vision!

Written by Total Vision

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