Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It's back

Ocular migraines are vision disturbances that look like the pictures above. They start as a small bright, blurry spot in one or both eyes and spread like a donut. They are usually painless by themselves and go away in a half hour or less, but they can come in tandem with migraine headaches.

I used to get ocular migraines (without headaches) fairly often. They seemed to be triggered by stress, anxiety and anger. But they could've been unrelated and I just spent a lot of my former life stressed, anxious and angry.

Ocular migraines pretty much went away when I retired and became a nomad. I can't remember the last time I had one. But I had one earlier today. (I would've blogged about it sooner, but I couldn't see clearly enough to write.) I kicked back, put a cool cloth on my head, and tried to think of why it might be happening. Am I stressed, anxious or angry about something? Mmmmm, no. I've been fairly mellow. Oh well.

Fortunately, ocular migraines aren't actually about the eyes, as with cataracts or detached retinas. They're neurological anomalies. Our brains are freaking out a little, which is why they're associated with migraine headaches.

(What amazes me, when I think about it, is that the light coming into our eyes never makes it out of our eyes. The optic nerve isn't a bundle of fiber optic cables sending light to the brain. Our retinas convert the light to electrochemical pulses and our brain makes pictures out of them—pretty much the same way the image you're reading right now was created out of electrical signals.)

If an ocular migraine starts when I'm driving I have to pull over and wait. Now that I'm driving the Rolling Steel Tent, I can climb in the back and take a nap. There are much worse ways to spend a half hour.


  1. If you get flashes of light in your eyes at your age it could be from a different event happening. You will see them for a short while if you are in the process of having a posterior vitreous detachment. Also known as a PVD. This happens as a normal part of aging to about 80% of the population. Most of the time it is a slow and gentle detachment. However in one of my eyes it was a suddne and strong event as I have very long eye balls and it caused retinal damage which required several surgeries to repair. The symptoms of the flashing lights from a PVD can be confused with those of occular migraines. So if you have never seen them before and you are over 50 do schedule an exam with an opthamologist. It is easy for them to tell if it was a PVD as it creates in the eye what is called a "Weiss Ring". You may also see a number of new floaters in your eye which is another indication that it was a PVD event rather than an occular migraine.

  2. I get ocular migraines too. If I pop an ibuprofen when I first get it, then I don't get the headache. The worst symptom for me is that it disrupts reading.

    1. Same here. Many years ago half of my face and my hands would become numb. Had to pull over because I couldn't feel the steering wheel.

  3. I will never forget the day my husband called me to come get him from work. He was in a meeting when the speaker's nose disappeared. He'd never heard of ocular migraines so we were both scared. And he certainly was not going to drive himself home!

  4. Another sufferer from those ocular migraines for over 50 years now. You have my sympathy for sure.

  5. I used to get ocular migraines too, also after I retired. Then they pretty much went away, I find it sort of fascinating the way getting old affects the my body in unexpected ways.

  6. What's really interesting is that the images are a perfect example.
    I've tried many times to describe them to my wife who's never had one of these events.
    "It's like a jagged edged circle that gets bigger until it passes behind the eye" I explain.
    She was fascinated with the images.

    I've popped a couple of "Migralieve" and the visual disturbances has now spread beyond my sight.
    Another 15 mins rest and Ivan get back to sweeping my yard.