My friend was on his way over to take me to dinner. My floors were dirty, so I hauled out the Dyson. As I pushed the vacuum into the hallway, something happened to my vision. I saw what could only be described as jagged zig sag lightening bolts in the center of my vision. WTF? I thought to myself. I turned off the vacuum and sat down on the couch. I put my palm over each eye, testing my vision. Sure enough, the jagged zig zag appeared in both eyes. Inside of the zig zag were lines that moved, like waves of water. I couldn’t see through the zig zag. It blocked my vision. Am I having a stroke? I wondered.
I sat through dinner a bit on edge. I wondered what was going to happen next. Would the vision disturbance get worse, or signal a serious health issue? Finally, a few hours later, my vision cleared up. The zig zags disappeared. I could see normally. My health anxiety faded and I got on with my night. Speaking to others in benzo withdrawal, I determined that the crazy vision disturbance was caused by an ocular migraine. They are fairly common in benzo withdrawal. They can be scary if you haven’t had them in the past, or know what they are. I haven’t had one in years now, and hopefully they are a thing of the past, like most of the other benzo withdrawal symptoms.
I receive quite a few emails from people wondering what is going on when they get similar symptoms. I am not an M.D. so I can’t diagnosis anyone, but I can suggest that they see a doctor to determine if they are having ocular migraines. Like all the other weird symptoms we can have in withdrawal, it’s always best to have serious conditions ruled out. Ninety-nine percent of the time our symptoms are not dangerous. They are mostly annoying.
Other vision symptoms in benzo withdrawal are blurry vision, double or triple vision, and processing disorders. For many months, I saw the world through eyes that felt as if someone had rubbed vaseline across them. I couldn’t see sharp, crips lines or definitions. Everything was hazy and out of focus. I frequently saw double and sometimes triple. I had a thorough eye exam which showed nothing out of the ordinary. My eye doctor knew nothing about benzo withdrawal, which wasn’t a surprise. In time, my crisp vision returned and the double vision faded away. Processing disorders can include a wide range of symptoms. For me, my brain felt as if it lagged behind what my eyes “saw.” I wasn’t able to see things smoothly. I processed sensory input as though I was watching frames of a move. Everything felt pixelated and jerky, as if a was looking at a piece of film going by. I had a hard time describing this particular symptom. It made me feel uncomfortable and I am grateful that it didn’t last too long.
Like other symptoms in withdrawal, vision symptoms clear up as your brain recovers from the damage the benzo caused. You won’t have to cope with visual disturbances forever. Feel free to share your visual symptoms with us and let us know which ones, if any, have cleared up for you.