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Visual Disturbance
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Visual Disturbance

I first started experiencing minor visual disturbances about a year and a half ago.  I thought it might be a problem with my eyes so I had an extensive eye exam with testing for several different eye related diseases and nothing wrong was found with my eyes.  The only way i can discribe what i see is to compare it to the heat rays you see coming off of a hot road surface.  It looks like that, only it's in a small point in my vision and only lasts a few seconds at a time.  It's not a blind spot.  It seems to have gotten more frequent lately and now occasionally, it'll seem like everything gets brighter for a second and then goes back to normal.  Not a flash of light but like someone turned the lights up for a second.  When I'm trying to get to sleep at night with my eyes closed, it happens also.  I've also been expereincing some dizziness and minor headaches about 4 times a week.  I don't fall over or anything but it feels like I've had a glass of wine or something.  I've had problems with migraines in the past but for some reason now I don't seem to have them as often, I don't know if it's related to the problems I'm having now or not but thought i should mention it.  I'm not on any medications other than birth control (Ortho-cylen).  I had a physical about a year ago and my blood pressure is great and my cholestoral was 129.  I'm not overweight  (5'4", 125 lbs),  I eat healthy but I admit to not excercising much if not at all at times.  I don't know if I need to see a neurologists or not so I'm posting this question for some advice.
Thanks,
Manon
Bel Air,MD
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If you're experiencing these visual problems in both eyes (next time it happens, cover one eye and see if it's still there), then there are a couple considerations of what these symptoms may represent.  First, there is an entity called transient migrainous accompaniments, which is a fancy way of saying symptoms that come with a migraine.  As you know, visual changes such as colored spots, wavy lines, or shapes/edges can precede a migraine and are called a visual aura.  They are part of the migraine.  As we get older, sometimes we can get the visual phenomena without the headache.  As you mentioned a history of migraines, this is one possibility.

Second, occipital lobe seizures can manifest this way.  The occipital lobe is the back part of your brain that processes the visual information from your eyes.  If this part of the brain is stimulated abnormally, you can experience visual changes.  My advice to you would be to see a neurologist who can do a formal exam and point you to the right direction in terms of workup such as an MRI of the brain and an EEG. Hope that helps.
15 Comments
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If your disturbances only happen when you move your eyes, then it sounds like you are seeing vitreous opacities (floaters) Do you notice them more when you are looking towards a bright light, for instance at night when watching tv, or when you are inside looking outside at bright sunlight, or when looking directly at a flourescent or other bright light?
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Thanks for your advice. As far as floaters are concerned, that's not what this is.  I do see floaters on occasion but this is all together different.  I do plan on seeing a neurologist now just for peace of mind but I feel better that my symptoms are not alarming... :-)
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It's called Scintillating Scotoma.
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To Manon:  I am very concerned about you being on the birth control pill.  I was told I had your kind of migraine (atypical or silent or visual) and that the pill is contraindicated due to risk of stroke.  In fact, my neuro-opthamologist recommended that I take one aspirin a day for the blood thinning.  Please investigate.
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What you discribe sounds similar to ones I have had for over 10 years. In 1992 I had a major stroke at age 31. After 6 months and a 2nd stroke, I was finally diagnosed with Anti-cardiolipid antibodies. Or thick blood. I still have this on occation but Coumadin treatment has really helped.
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I suffered with visual disturbances for several years, mostly (I later realized) when I was under stress.  These would take the form of a slight jagged edge distortion to my vision and this would become larger so it was like looking through a shattered window with the edges shimmering very strongly.  My doctor told me to start taking asprin anyway as I was nearing 40 years of age.  I started to take it and then saw a programme on TV 2 months later which had 2 top surgeons were saying how bad asprin was for the stomach, so I stopped taking it.  1 month later, I suffered a stroke which affected my vision, and this had the effect of where I seemed to be looking at everthing through a small hole, and caused me to wretch uncontrollably.  I regained 90% of my vision back after 2 years and am now on Dipridamole & Asprin, and Atenolol (for blood pressure) for the rest of my life.

I was diagnosed with highish blood (but not dangerously so) pressure at the same time. I know it sounds easy but try not to get too stressed out in life, it really is just not worth it.  Take asprin.  Hope this helps.
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ManonW. I have a problem that is very similar to yours. I used to have migraines monthly right after my period was finished. My migraines used to have spotted vision for about an hour before the headache would start. Now I don't get the headache anymore but the week following my period my vision is extremely spotted, dizzyness like the floor is moving, and bad tingling in hands, feet, & face similar to pins and needles. I have spent all of 2001 seeing different doctors including 9 neurologists. All neurologic testing came up normal EEG, MRI, MRA, sleep study, VER and all blood testing. The best diagnosis I have right now is that these are migraines with no headaches. I have heard they were vestibular migraines which distort your brains reception of balance, and I have also heard they were hemaphalagic migraines. If you notice these symptoms intensifing during certain times around your menstrual cycle, you should look into getting your hormone levels tested. My symptoms stem from huge estrogen fluctuations. I found this out by taking a hormone test at home involving analysis of saliva for a month through a laboratory called diagnostic techs. I hope you don't get discouraged. I have been battling this for a year and am just now finding out what is causing this. I am getting ready to start hormone therapy to prevent this migraines. I used to take birth control pills also but was informed by many doctors that they put me in a high risk stroke category. Besides the added estrogen that your birth control pills supply your body may be contributing to the problem. Please contact me if you find a solution that could help us both. vanessa.***@****
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I had my first opthalmic migraine 12/28/01.  It affected my vison and I lost vison in my left eye.  It went dark in the middle of my eye, I could see around it but not middle or straight on.  I went to an eye doctor and he said eye was swollen  and to go to a retna specialist.  The specialitst said it was an opthalmic migraine. It will correct itself. No treatment. come back in 2 months. My question is how long before eye gets better?  How long swelling  will be in eye and will I ever get vison back?  If any one else has had this problem?  Could you let me know how long to expect? Thank you
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I am responding to post from Dec 2001 regarding visual disturbances. I have been diagnosed with atypical or variant migraine syndrome without headache.  I experience chronic motion sensitivity with severe visual disturbances.  I see areas of gray around the periphery of objects as well as blurry vision.
Also everything in my field of vision shimmers and moves.  I have seen numerous neurologists all of my testing is in the normal range.  Is there anyone "out there" who exeriences similiar symptoms? Beta blockers and anti-convulsants have not worked.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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njgal
I have heard of people who have migranes (migraines) without the actual headache. I commonly visit the MS Forum at Braintalk.org and it is a very busy forum there. Some there in the MS forum have what you have. There are other forums and might even be some kind of Migrane (migraine) forum there. If so, I would suggest you check it out as it may be busier than it is here. ALthough there are no doctor replies there as there are here. Although some doctors may be members.
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Seek out a chiropractor/physiotherapist/osteopath or someone who can check the state of your neck muscles. A dysfunctional sternocleidomastoid muscle (the large one at the front of your neck) can cause all sorts of problems. Look up "sternocleidomastoid syndrome" on the internet or any case histories or documentation by Travell & Simons. It sounds a possibility in your case. I have suffered for 9 years and have only just found the cause of my problems.
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I have been suffering from increasing problems with seeing dark colours, an increase in 'floaters' when looking in light, and I also suffer from zig-zag lines on occasion, without migraine headache, the last occasion with coloured lights. Now I see the beginning of a line perhaps once a day, after sneezing usually. My father suffered from tunnel vision late in life. I also have unexplained 'bruises' that don't fade. I wear spectacles for both 'long' and 'short' vision. I have had eye tests for glaucoma and also 'field of vision' which were apparently normal.
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Hi,I'm new to this site.  Any suggestions re what's wrong?  2 days ago while getting breakfast I experienced wavy vision that became zig zag and kept increasing, mostly in my left eye.  My head then began to feel 'tight' and I became very weak.  I felt as if I were going to pass out. Then my heart started pounding and I broke out in a sweat.  I sat, closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing.  It passed and then I had a slight headache and felt exhausted.  This happened again yesterday morning.  I've had a slight headache since the first episode.
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Hi everyone, you don't know how glad I am to have found you all!
Here in Wales, UK,it is impossible to find out much about this
subject.I have been suffering severe visual disturbances for two years now, these have prevented me from working as the episodes
occur 3, 4, 5 times a week-sometimes lasting many hours.I am
regularly woken during the early hours of the morning so I tend to stay up as long as I can in a vain attempt to forestall them.
This has become a habit now and I rarely get more than a few hours sleep a night.I have become depressed and am taking the usual stuff for it.
The disturbances take the form of a small point of light in the
centre of my field of vision, this slowly grows as a ring with
shimmering, jagged edges that are red and green.The 'ring' grows
over a period of an hour or two to many hours.I can see through
the 'ring', albeit blurred, but beyond the ring it shimmers like petrol on water.Sometimes another ring begins in the middle of the original one (I still panic even after two years!)This can be accompanied by the most severe headaches imaginable, but
sometimes not.The medical treadmill was long and slow and at the end
of it I was left with no option but to try and live with it.
My hobbies were artwork and astronomy (my telescope is now the most expensive ornament in the house!)I'm taking Cipramil,
Oxazepam, Zimovane and Co-Dydramol, but to be honest they are more for the depression than anything else.I suppose I shall have to learn to live with it-anyone out there know different?

regards
Red Dragon
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