Why do I see a rainbow circle around lights? Should I be concerned?
This is the time of year to see rainbows, and while they are beautiful in the sky, they’re not so great when they disrupt your field of vision. Sometimes this is a normal response to glare or sudden bright light but, when seen at night it may indicate a vision problem. Many who experience this condition ask us what it means when and if seeing “rainbows” is a cause for concern. Read on to learn the answer…
What causes rainbow halos around lights?
Light is made up of different colors, but because the rays focus on a single point, you can’t distinguish them. When you see halos around lights, it may mean that scattering of light is occurring in the cornea or lens of the eye. When we look directly into a bright light and look away, we will see halos or bright circles, temporarily while our eyes adjust. Glare, off the water or from oncoming headlights may also temporarily interfere with your vision. Rainbow halos around lights is a normal response to bright lights while your eyes adjust, but sometimes, they are indicators of vision problems, especially when they are seen at night. Seeing rainbows around lights especially at night, usually indicates a swelling of the cornea and can be attributed to certain vision conditions and you should set up an appointment with your Annex eye doctor to see what the cause is.
What does it mean when you see a halo in your vision?
If the retina in the back of your eye isn’t working properly and light can’t focus on it, you may start to see halos or glare.
What conditions might cause me to see halos?
Halos and rainbow vision can occur in bright direct sunlight or when a sudden camera flash occurs as our eyes adjust. This is temporary and will go away. Usually the halos are of concern when they occur in dim light or at night. Some common eye problems may also cause halos.
Common vision conditions that can cause rainbow vision may include:
- Myopia (Nearsightedness): hard to see things that are far away, often worse at night
- Hyperopia Farsightedness: difficult to see things close up due to the natural shape of your eyeball)
- Astigmatism: blurred vision due to irregular shape of the cornea, the front surface of the eye
- Presbyopia: farsightedness due to aging
Other conditions include:
- Cataracts: Normally, the lens at the front of your eye is clear. Light can pass through easily. A cataract scatters rather than focuses light. This blurs your vision. Halos and sensitivity to lights at night are a common symptom.
- Eye procedures: Radial keratotomy could be to blame. More modern forms of LASIK are far less likely to cause these problems.
More serious health conditions that may cause halos and vision problems include:
- Diabetes: Over time, too much sugar in the blood can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your eyes, making you more likely to experience night vision problems.
- Retinitis pigmentosa: This rare genetic disorder causes a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. Difficulty seeing at night is one of the earliest symptoms.
What can I do to reduce glare and seeing halos?
Some simple steps to reduce your risk are:
- Wear sunglasses: This is obviously for during the day. While sunglasses are always a good idea, polarized shades can keep your eyes safe from certain types of glare, such as reflection off of water. We offer a variety of fashionable protective eyewear to help you out.
- Use your vehicle sun visor: Use this to keep direct sunlight out of your eyes.
- Wear Lenses: Ask us about special types of lenses that can help reduce glare and correct eye problems.
- Eat your carrots: Vitamin A and zinc deficiency can cause night vision problems. A diet high in these nutrients can improve your condition. Carrots and leafy greens are great sources of Vitamin A, while zinc can be found in protein sources such as red meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts and beans.
What treatments are there for rainbow vision?
Treatment for halos and glare includes:
- Vision correction: Make an appointment and we’ll help you determine what is the cause of your issue. If it is a common eye problem, correcting your vision can help. If you’re nearsighted or farsighted, your eyes don’t focus light on your retinas like they should. Glasses or contact lenses may alleviate the issue.
- Addressing cataracts: Early on, if your cataracts aren’t too severe you may be able to reduce the effects with glasses. Use sunglasses to lessen glare. If it gets to be too severe than surgery is the common, effective way to treat more vision-impairing cataracts. During the surgery, the eye doctor removes your cloudy lens and usually replaces it with an artificial lens.
So, there you have it. Rainbows in the sky beautiful, rainbows in the eye, a sign that you need to come in for a visit. If you are continually experiencing rainbow vision (especially at night) or you are experiencing any pain or discomfort contact us to discuss if you may be experiencing one of the conditions outlined in this post and for effective solutions to help alleviate the issue. Book your comprehensive eye exam with us, your Toronto optometrist office, today!
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