Does Depersonalization Affect Vision?
It’s one of the most commonly reported symptoms of Depersonalization.
I experienced it myself and I hear it from sufferers all the time:
My vision is foggy / distorted
I can see visual snow / ‘floaters’
Static / Fuzzy Vision
Things appear to move slightly
Things just look ‘strange’
I had the very same reaction when I first developed DP.
In fact I can still remember going to an optician and getting my eyes re-rested. My theory was that the confusion and dizziness I felt all the time must have been down to some problem with my eyesight, my contact lenses, something to do with my vision. So I got new prescription contacts -- and of course, they made no difference whatsoever!
So, let’s clear this up once and for all:
No, depersonalization cannot affect your vision.
It can’t cause visual snow, it can’t cause ‘floaters’, and it certainly can’t make you see things that aren’t there.
So why is it so commonly reported? Well, it’s actually quite simple and in fact, makes a lot of sense!
Depersonalization is driven by one thing: anxiety.
Scientifically and anecdotally, DP is 100% an anxiety-based condition. And when you have intense and persistent anxiety,
for whatever reason, your body and mind are in ‘fight or flight mode’ constantly.
This means that you are physically and mentally on the lookout for threats, consistently, in your environment.
That produces a number of effects on the body, for example:
Now, what’s the body’s best onboard system for detecting danger?
That’s right -- vision.
Your visual system is also on super high alert, all the time. Your pupils are constantly dilated (making them more sensitive to light) and your brain is constantly scanning your visual field for some sort of danger. Now in an evolutionary sense, this is hugely beneficial:
Let’s say you’re living in the jungle a few thousand years ago. You hear a branch snap in the near distance. Suddenly your ‘fight or flight’ mode kicks in, your pupils dilate and you start intensely scanning the trees for danger. It could save your life!
Now try this: imagine that you’re in the present day, sitting in your kitchen, reading the newspaper.
Because of your condition, that same ‘fight or flight’ mode is on constantly. Your eyes and visual cortex are scanning for danger -- in the newspaper, in the kitchen -- and of course, there’s none there. But that lack of danger doesn’t switch off the anxiety as it should and the visual scanning for threats continues all day, every day.
What do you think would be the result of that constant, intense scanning happening over and over -- for days, weeks, months on end?
That’s right: the eyes and visual cortex become completely overworked and exhausted.
They try so see danger anywhere and everywhere. That’s why you’re suddenly seeing ‘floaters’, 'afterimages' etc etc; these are things that you see every day already but you totally (and rightly!) disregard in your non-anxious state. There is nothing remotely dangerous or frightening about them.
You only see them at all because the brain is just looking for something -- anything -- to be the source of the danger.
Visual snow, thinking you’re seeing thing move, etc etc -- all products of the natural defensive system of your body!
And as for light sensitivity? That’s because your pupils are dilated (again, fight or flight) and letting in more light than usual. That’s why supermarkets and malls can be difficult for DP sufferers -- not because of the places themselves, but because of the bright fluorescent lighting!
So there you have it -- That’s the link between depersonalization and vision.
There's no danger, there’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s just a temporary result of your body’s natural defensive mechanism at work.
And the best news? None of it is permanent.
Once your start to recover, any and all visual disturbances will stop completely along with every other symptom.