When Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Harms Vision

Blurring, intolerance to light, headaches from reading; these are just a few of the vision problems that often come with chronic fatigue syndrome.

 By Beth W. Orenstein

Many people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) also experience problems with their vision. Doctors believe that these vision-related chronic fatigue symptoms stem from brain dysfunction more than eye dysfunction. The signals that the brain sends to the eyes to let you know where you are and what you’re seeing may not be functioning properly when you have chronic fatigue syndrome.

Vision Problems and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: It’s All a Blur

Most often, patients report having periods where everything appears blurry or seems foggy. “This will happen most commonly when they stand up and get lightheaded,” says Peter Rowe, MD, director of the Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

Other vision problems that chronic fatigue syndrome patients report include:

  • Difficulty or slowness in focusing on objects, usually those that are close up

  • Not being able to see objects in side or peripheral vision — some say they feel as though they have tunnel vision

  • Feeling dizzy and not being able to tolerate looking at moving objects

  • Seeing floaters and flashes of light

  • Being intolerant to light — “They find it uncomfortable to be in brightly lit rooms and outdoors in the bright sunshine,” Dr. Rowe says.

  • Feeling as though eyes are dry or that they burn, itch, or feel gritty



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