Have you been seeing flashes or movement of things in your peripheral vision of late? Understandably, this can be extremely worrying or even frustrating. According to a 2009 study appearing in The Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, visual hallucination is the name given to the phenomenon of seeing things that aren’t there [1].

Beyond being frustrating and stressful, this condition can often point to an underlying condition worthy of your doctor’s attention. So, talk to your physician as that is always the best way out.

Potential Reasons Why One Might See Inexistent Things in Their Peripheral Vision

Seeing Moving Things and Eye Strain Vector by Seitai (imgbin).
Vector depicting eye strain created by Seitai (imgbin)

From eye infections to migraines and even mental ailments, there are numerous reasons why one might start seeing things. Let’s explore some of them:

Alcohol and Drugs

People who use alcohol and some hard drugs e.g. ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines may complain of seeing things that are not there. Drug-induced visual hallucinations may include abstract shapes, movements, animals, people, or even flashes of light.

These symptoms may be reported even long after quitting the drugs.


Certain prescription meds may distort one’s vision, particularly among elderly people. In most cases, hallucinations due to meds are usually dose-dependent meaning if one stops using the meds, the symptoms may reduce. However, you should never quit meds without speaking to your doctor first.

A medical expert can advise you on how your current meds are affecting you and also explore the possibility of switching to other alternatives.

Multiple Sclerosis

Generally, MS is associated with symptoms like sensory deficits, limb weakness, and even visual disturbances [2]. However, despite the fact that visual disturbances are a common symptom of MS, visual hallucinations are quite rare.

If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition and have started seeing shapes or even faces in your peripheral vision be sure to consult your doctor. In some cases, the symptoms may go away on their own.

Eye Floaters

Floaters may resemble specks, lines, or even cobwebs. And the problem with them is that they swim and bounce around the field of sight meaning they can at times cause you to see things.

In most cases, floaters are merely an annoyance. However, in the event that they are so many and are negatively impacting your vision, it is recommended to talk to a doctor. Surgery might be an option.

Severe Migraines

About 20% of folks with migraines report experiencing auras [3]. Now, auras may lead to symptoms like temporary loss of vision or even visual disturbances. That’s along with the fact that intense head pain can leave one predisposed to extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

It is highly recommended to seek expert medical attention if one has advanced symptoms such as language difficulty, vision loss, and muscle weakness. This is to help rule out serious conditions.

Late Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

This and other types of dementia may cause major changes to your brain leading to changes in one’s visual perceptions. One may even get to see complete scenes play out right before their eyes.

Seeking Advanced Help

This involves undertaking a physical exam along with having your health history documented. Normally, doctors are interested in assessing what you are actually seeing and when it all started. In some cases, a visit to a psychiatrist may be recommended for further checks regarding mental health wellness.

Normally, long-term care depends on the root cause of the condition. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes may be recommended.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2660156/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295796/

3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-with-aura/multimedia/migraine-aura/vid-20084707

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