Posts Tagged ‘ocular migraine’

Ocular Migraine

I plopped down into my squeaky computer chair with the idea that I would write a pithy post tonight. But I noticed something funny on the monitor scree, a funny little rotating light.

I immediately put both hands over both eyes and closed my eyes tight. Yup: funny little light is still there and growing in size. I haven’t lost too much of my vision yet, but I will soon be unable to see peripherally to the left or right (I think it will be to the right as the migraine seems to be in the right eye).

If I close my eyes and concentrate on the lights, I see an image that reminds me of carnival lights: moving, neon, and geometric in shape. It grows as the migraine grows in intensity, but there is no pain associated with it. It will last between 30 and 45 minutes, and then it will fade completely away. If I am unlucky, a headache will follow in about 2 days, but I rarely get the actual head-splitting migraine pain, so I am counting on being lucky.

The first time I experienced one of these, I was about 20 years old. Scared me to death. I thought I was going blind or insane. I made an immediate appointment with an eye doctor who kindly explained the ocular migraine to me in layman’s terms. It was 1976 and he told me that the blood vessels around my ocular nerve were tightening, a phenomena that caused me to see little “halo” lights.

That is not how they describe an ocular migraine in the 21st Century. I do know that If I catch it early enough, taking a single aspirin will stop it in its tracks. I know how long one lasts. I know I cannot drive when I have one (I really do lose the peripheral vision out of whichever eye the migraine is occurring in.

Right now, it is a reverse – C shape and mostly yellow and white, but the geometric shapes are constantly moving and flickering like the old neon lights of my youth. I am having a more difficult time typing as I am missing much of my vision.

This site (AllAboutVision) has the best explanation of what is happening in my eye, and it includes a little graphic that gives you an idea of what an ocular migraine looks like (in case you have never experienced one). Take that graphic and make the lights moving and you have what I see.

Other people describe it differently.

It is full blown now. I have angry red flashing lights, calming blue triangles, and the constant yellow-and-white flashing lights. I cannot see anything in the right area where the lights are: about 6 o’clock and up to the middle of my eye, over to 5 o’clock.

There is no rhyme or reason to an ocular migraine. They just happen, usually in clusters. And sometimes, I don’t have one for a year or so.  If one happens at work, I stop what I am doing a cover my eyes. It’s all I can do.

But if one happens at home, I like to stop and just watch it. It’s like a built-in light show. The lights fluctuate, move around, flash. The shapes change, but they are always geometric in form, although the entire effect is semi-circular. Sometimes I just sit and try to see what I cannot see. The lamp before me or the calendar on the wall, the glass to my right.

They don’t scare me any more. I’ve been having them for 36 years now and I’m somewhat used to them, although the timing is somewhat unnerving (especially if they happen when I need to be driving and I find myself having to wait to drive somewhere, like home from work). I just thank my lucky stars that I rarely get the true migraine that can follow one of these episodes.

This one is almost over. The lights are faded and the blank spot is getting smaller.

I’ll proof this and then post it – would you mind sharing with me if you also suffer ocular migraines and describe what you see when you have one?


I’m just curious.


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