Temporary black and white vision (What does it mean)

It is a temporary loss of vision usually in one eye that lasts from some seconds to minutes. The condition is also known as Episodic Blindness. The treatment aims for preventing permanent vision loss although the condition is very rare. 

Temporary black and white vision

This temporary black and white vision is also a warning or triggering sign for serious conditions like stroke.

Types of vision loss

Different kinds of vision loss can be temporary, partially or totally. And based on the underlying cause and triggers, one can seek treatment accordingly.

  • Sudden vision loss

When there is a total loss of vision, one needs to visit an ophthalmologist for further treatment. It is a triggering medical condition.

  • Partial vision loss

It is caused by migraine in most of the cases. But these are also cases of partial vision loss which are caused by other reasons for which one can seek treatment. When the person has a migraine, they tend to get an aura that hampers or disturbs their vision of both eyes resulting in seeing flashlights, blind spots or shimmering spots.

  • Near-total or sudden total vision loss

There are cases of a clot that blocks that retinal artery of a person which increases the susceptibility or likelihood of an individual to a heart attack or stroke. The blood clot can result in temporary loss of vision lasting only for 20-30 minutes during which a person feels they are barred by a dark curtain.

The treatment for this type of loss includes taking medicine to break the clot.

Symptoms of Temporary Black and white vision

There are different symptoms associated with vision loss and in most of the case, it can be caused and treated.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Flashing light and grey shadow in their vision

When a person experiences a kind of vision loss, they notice some kind of flashing lights and some grey curtain moving around their visual field. This is a sign of retinal detachment which is mostly caused by physical injury or eye diseases like glaucoma. If the condition is not treated soon and quickly, this often leads to causes of blindness. 

  • Loss of vision in one eye

Loss of vision of one eye signals different eye diseases and conditions. One of the causes is macular degeneration which is age-related, leading to vision loss in most people crossing the age of 65. The condition is not sudden, however it builds up gradually. Another cause of sudden vision loss can be a type of glaucoma where there is damage to the optic nerve due to fluid pressure.

  • Eye pain

Painless and bearable eye pain if neglected for long can result in eye injury. The redness and itchiness around the eye lasting for 15-20 minutes results in temporary loss of vision. The underlying cause of eye injury can also be dry eye and scratched cornea.

  • Eye Injury

Injury in the eye is to be reported by the doctor and if redness and pain are lasting for more than 15-20minutes, one needs to take care of it.

  • Persistent discomfort in the eye

When there is discomfort and itchiness in the eye caused by dust particles or any other dirt, to check it up with the doctor is important to prevent other severe conditions. One should make sure no dust particles are entering the eyes.

  • Blurred Vision

Blur vision can be a sign of many underlying eye problems such as glaucoma, torn retina and AMD. Vision loss or blurriness in one eye can be early signalling symptoms of diseases like stroke, blockage of the carotid artery, etc.

  • Complications in eye surgery

Post-surgery or during surgery if a person experiences any kind of redness and irritation in their eyes resulting in blurry vision and pain, one should report to a doctor for further treatments. Despite the condition fading off in some time, it is best to meet an eye specialist so that further complications are prevented.

  • Discomfort when wearing contact lens

Most of the people don’t have any problem when wearing contact lenses. However, when there are people who experience a problem such as serious infection, redness in eye, discomfort, etc. in case of those, one needs to consult a doctor.

These are some of the symptoms associated with temporary black and white visions. Some symptoms can be severe enough that it requires immediate medical help and treatment, however, in the case of negligible symptoms, one shouldn’t ignore it rather seek help from an eye specialist or consultant.

Causes of Temporary Black and White vision

There are different causes of temporary black and white visions and some conditions directly result in temporary loss of vision while some can gradually lead to it.

Some things can directly cause blurred vision if they are severe enough, while others can also cause loss of symptoms in association with other conditions.

The causes behind the loss of visions are:

  • Amaurosis fugax

It is a temporary and partial blackout of a vision which is painless and often feels like something shadowing over them. The blackout vision lasts for some minutes and then their vision gets back to normal. 

The other problems causing temporary loss of vision are increased intracranial pressure, retinal migraine, obstruction of vertebral arteries etc. 

  • Retinal Vasospasm

The conditions of retinal vasospasm cause temporary vision loss and the treatment restores the sign to normal. The blood vessel in the retina tightens resulting in vasospasm. High blood pressure, retinal migraine, etc results in retinal vasospasm. 

  • Closed-Angle glaucoma

The pressure built up in the eye due to bulging of Iris resulting in the preventing the fluid from draining out properly. It results in discomfort, nausea and blurred vision. 

To get rid of the pressure built in the eyes, one can take medicine such as the pill, beta-blockers to ease and lessen the pressure built-in eye.

  • Giant cell arteritis

It is a rare condition but an important cause or condition of vision loss in people , especially crossing age of 50. The condition also results in inflammation in arteries lining, head pain, jaw pain, fatigue and fever. If the condition is left untreated, it results in permanent loss of vision and blindness within a week or two.

Some of the rare causes behind temporary loss of vision are:

  • Retinal vein occlusion

The blockage of retinal vein results in a blood clot which often leads to swelling and leak of fluid in the eye. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from this condition and it severely affects the blood flow in the body. Blood pressure, etc.

For the treatment of the condition, the corticosteroid is often prescribed to control this inflammation. Along with that drugs called Anti Vascular Endothelial to use prescribed to cut off the fluid accumulation.

  • Epileptic Seizures

Seizures affect the occipital lobe, that controls the vision in 5-10% of the people. The disease results in vision loss and the treatment prevents further complication.

  • Papilledema

It is a condition where the pressure in the brain swells the optic nerve resulting in vision changes like blurriness, short term blindness etc. Other symptoms of it include tumour, blood clot and elevated blood pressure.

MS affects only a few people and it is often rare. However, the condition can cause serious damage to the nerves and make the person sensitive and vulnerable to heat. This rise in body temperature worsens the symptoms of poor vision and blurry vision. The condition usually lasts for a day during which one loses vision in either eyes or both. They also feel weaker, dizzy and numbness than usual. Some of the triggers of th0is condition include exercise, intensive workout, hot baths, sunlight and stress.

  • Retinitis Pigmentosa

It is the condition that damages the retina and usually impacts teenagers and youth. The immediate symptoms of the condition are night blindness, however, can progress to the inability to distinguish the colour and in peripheral vision loss.

  • Panic and Stressful conditions

Although there is no direct association between stress and loss of vision, however, it is the effect of stress where when the person is in stress, their blood pressure fluctuates and often results in a dimming of vision. 

In such a case, there is no need for medication as such since the condition gets over within a couple of times. But this might indicate some serious treatment required.

Other than the mentioned conditions, some other conditions causing loss of vision are cataract, corneal ulcer, optic neuritis, endophthalmitis, uveitis, scleritis and thyroid-related eye disease.

These are the important causes of black and white temporary vision which can directly result in loss of vision or are contributory factors in the gradual development of vision loss.

Among the anomalies of the eye you can find the central heterochromia, which is not a loss of sight but some changes in the tones of the eye.

FAQ: Temporary black and white vision

What causes black and white vision?

The condition is known as achromatopsia ranging from mild to severe cases. It can be inherited as well as caused by injury or illnesses.

Why does my vision go black randomly?

It is caused by different conditions lasting for a minute or more and then the restoration of normal vision. 
The key causes of it are cataract, corneal ulcer, optic neuritis, endophthalmitis, uveitis, scleritis and thyroid-related eye disease.

How long does temporary blindness last?

It lasts only for 20 to 30 minutes during which it feels like a dark curtain falling off. After this temporary condition, vision restored to normal.

How rare is black and white color blindness?

It is believed that out of 30,000 births, it occurs in 1 out of those which is a very rare condition. 

Can you go blind suddenly?

Yes, there are cases of sudden blindness owing to the damage in the retina. It affects the eye resulting in partial vision loss as well as permanent vision loss.

Can you go temporarily blind from stress?

It was found that stress hormones can damage the eye and brain by disrupting blood flow in body parts. The stress being the main reason causes certain eye diseases.

What is a mini-stroke in the eye?

Eye stroke occurs when the blood flows in the retina which is then later in eye aiding in our vision is blocked. 
The immediate effect of it results in blurriness and blindness.

Can blindness be cured?

There is no cure for blindness as well as macular degeneration however, in recent years, there are cures after knowing after the inner working of eyes as well as diseases.

What is the most visible colour to the human eye?

Yellow is believed to be the most visible colour for the individual out of all the other colours. It is the first colour that one notices.


In this article, we focused on temporary black and white vision, type of vision loss, the causes of temporary black and white vision, symptoms of the condition and some of the FAQs in regards to the topic. 

Loss of Vision




Lee, K. (2017, 11 17). 9 Serious Eye Symptoms to Watch Out For. everyday health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/vision-center/9-serious-vision-symptoms-to-watch-out-for.aspx

Optical Care. (208). Temporary Loss of Peripheral Vision: Causes, Treatment, Prevention. Southwestern Eye Center. https://www.sweye.com/blog/optical-care/temporary-loss-of-peripheral-vision/

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