Summer Thunderstorms and Seeing Rainbows

Summer in Vermont is that short sliver of a season when everyone gloriously basks in the sun, soaks up that unparalleled pond life, and runs for cover when those tempestuous summer thunderstorms come barreling through. It’s also a time of rainbows!

Whether or not Pride Month was deliberately meant to be celebrated at the beginning of the rainbow season, that is serendipitously the way it turned out. Those summer sunny rainy days mean rainbows flapping in the summer breeze and arcing across the sky in all their ephemeral brilliance. But what if the rainbows you’re seeing aren’t on flags or fleeting on the horizon, but right there at the center of your vision, and not just in the heart of summer?

The quotidian flag and meteorological rainbows are entirely harmless and often extraordinary, but rainbows in your vision on a daily can be a sign of a serious eye condition.

Rainbow Vision

A lot of people will experience brief rainbow vision when exposed to bright lights, but the kind of rainbow vision that doesn’t dissipate relatively quickly or is accompanied by headaches, eye pain, blurred vision, or nausea is generally not something that should be dismissed.

The most common causes of rainbow vision are cataractsglaucomamigraines, and corneal edema.

At the top of the list are cataracts. Much like water droplets in the atmosphere create a haze through which sunlight is refracted creating a rainbow across the sky, a cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye causing light to scatter creating rainbow-like halos around objects in your vision.

Glaucoma is likewise a condition of damage to the optic nerve caused by a variety of possible conditions, the result of which is a build-up of pressure and likely fluid inside the eye, distorting the eye, and creating rainbows around objects amongst other possible symptoms.

Migraines and corneal edema are both linked to increased pressure in the eye resulting in distorted vision including rainbows.

Treatment of Rainbow Vision

There is no treatment for seeing rainbows after a sun shower or playfully fluttering on flag poles, but if the cause of your rainbow vision is something physiological, your eye doctor may recommend a few different avenues of treatment.

If cataracts are deemed the cause of your symptoms, an ophthalmologist may recommend cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial one. Beyond surgery, there are eye drops or other medications that can reduce inflammation or pressure in the eye clearing up symptoms like rainbows and headaches, or laser surgery may be recommended to treat glaucoma or other eye conditions.

Ultimately, if the rainbows you’re seeing are radiating around most of the objects in your vision, it’s time to contact your eye doctor for an exam, otherwise, enjoy the transient summer days and occasional rainbows until it’s time to hibernate again for winter.

Rainbow Pride at Berlin Optical Expressions