I see a squiggle when I look at anything

Even a healthy eye will occasionally experience some slight visual disturbances, including squiggly lines. They are often harmless. However, it is possible that squiggles in your vision can indicate something more serious, especially if they are affecting your ability to see or if they have suddenly become worse. Here are some of the key causes of eye squiggles, and what you should do about them.

squiggle in vision

Eye floaters

This is the most common reason for seeing squiggles when you look around. Eye floaters are thick strings caught in the vitreous jelly of your eye. This gel-like substance is your eye’s natural lubrication, and it is usually clear. However, clumps of the jelly can appear as grey spots or squiggles, which float across your eye. They move when you try to look at them, and they are easiest to see when the eye is closed or when you look at a bright, light background.

Eye floaters are usually harmless and almost everyone will experience them at some point. They are sometimes caused by over-rubbing the eyes, which causes the fluid to break up. However, a sudden increase in the number of floaters can indicate a more serious problem, and in extreme circumstances, floaters can indicate that the retina is detaching from the fluid entirely. This can lead to vision loss, so it should be assessed by a specialist as soon as possible.

Migraine aura

Squiggles in the eye are also associated with the symptoms of migraine headaches. Migraines are often accompanied by visual symptoms, known as the ‘aura’. Often, the sufferer’s vision will be affected suddenly, with lines and squiggles appearing to distort the field of vision. This can be scary and disorientating. Migraines are often relieved with rest, painkillers and water, though prescription medication can ease severe or chronic migraines. If you are worried about your migraine symptoms, you should see your GP.

Eye trauma

Occasionally, squiggles and lines in your vision can indicate a more serious problem, such as damage to your eye. Disturbed vision is often reported after eye surgery or following an eye injury, and it can take some time for normal vision to be restored. Early onset sight loss can also manifest with small patches of vision loss, which can appear like a waterfall or squiggly line down one or both eyes. Your eye doctor can help to diagnose vision problems that are due to injury or trauma and offer advice on the best course of treatment.