Sharp Edge Eye Syndrome: A Case Report and Survey of Self-Identified Individuals

J Neuroophthalmol. 2022 Dec 1;42(4):524-529. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000001650. Epub 2022 Jul 13.


Background: Sharp edge eye syndrome (SEES), sometimes known as visual looming syndrome, is a condition in which the patient experiences ocular pain or discomfort when viewing or mentally picturing sharp objects and edges. Patients may present for medical care because they perceive the condition to represent an ophthalmic problem or a sign of a more serious underlying condition. An individual case report of SEES is included to aid in illustrating syndrome characteristics. Our aim is to describe the syndrome, vision-related quality of life (VRQOL), and psychosocial characteristics in patients with self-identified SEES.

Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey was made available on social media webpages dedicated to SEES. The study included 22 questions developed by the research team, demographic questions, and 4 standardized questionnaires [ID Migraine, the National Eye Institute's Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25), General Anxiety Disorder-2 (GAD-2), and Patient Health Questionnaire (depression) Scale-2].

Results: Seventy-seven respondents had an average age of 29 and were 57% male. 92% reported symptoms before age 18. The main site of pain or discomfort was the eyes, with onset resulting from viewing or thinking of sharp objects and edges. Symptoms lasted from seconds to hours and could be prolonged even after closing eyes or avoiding viewing the trigger. The composite and subscale scores on the NEI-VFQ-25 were low, with a mean composite score of 78 and selected subscores of general health (61), general vision (73), ocular pain (68), driving (79), mental health (61), and role difficulties (72). Anxiety was reported in 58% of participants, and depression in 57%. Migraine or headache was reported in 46% of participants. Participants reported Alice in Wonderland syndrome, visual snow, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, stripe-induced visual discomfort, and synesthesia.

Conclusion: From this survey, we have the beginnings of an understanding of the characteristics of SEES, as well as VRQOL impacts. These survey responses lead us to postulate that SEES may be a distinct visual phenomenon and to propose SEES criteria. Systematic studies of this condition's clinical features and treatment responses will be additional steps toward improving patient care.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye Pain / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders*
  • Pain
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires