Monday, November 15, 2010

Visual Migraine



I have been very lucky in my life to not suffer from headaches very often. In fact, unless there is a low pressure system coming in fast, or I've imbibed too much, I never get headaches. However, it appears I do suffer from visual migraines.

They can be quite scary - coming on when you least expect them, and lasting for around 20 minutes. At first I thought it might be a stroke, which was of course - terrifying! I do not have any pain, just a feeling of not being able to see well for a time afterwards. Below is a video of what one may look like. If you have these symptoms it is recommended that you have them checked out, but I was relieved to read they are fairly common, and generally do not require medical attention:

42 comments:

Brian Miller said...

yikes...i dont want one...

Hilary said...

I started getting migraines about 20 years ago. I didn't get them often, but every time I got them I had an aura, a visual one just like your video. The aura came first, lasted about 20-30 minutes. Then the headache.
No, they are not fun.

Reya Mellicker said...

I thought I was seeing visions when I got these. They actually think these are headaches? But ... my head doesn't ache. Crazy.

Kathy G said...

Hubby gets these occasionally (his doctor calls them optical migraines). He's found that when one starts, if he eats something it sometimes helps.

maggie's garden said...

That must be really uncomfortable...glad it wasn't a stroke. I've never seen or heard of this....very interesting.

Von said...

NOt nice, I call them 'whizzy eyes'they last as you say about 20 minutes and I just close my eyes if I can and rest.I've had them for 40 years but very infrequently.

Jen said...

Apparently they are quite common. I have an inkling that they have nothing to do with migraines...

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Maybe they say, okay, time to lay down,l shut your eyes, and dream then weirdness away!

Hope you're on the mend.

Bruce Coltin said...

I had never heard of visual migraines. What do you do when you get one? And how often do you get them? Do they give you any warning, or do they just come on full-blown?

Natalie said...

I'm with Brian.
Poor you, must have been very scary the first time it happened.

DJan said...

Wow. This is amazing, I never heard of it before. Glad to know it's nothing too serious, although I have heard that most migraines are really painful. Glad it's only a visual one for you, Nancy.

Jill of All Trades said...

Oh my I think I've had those before. I usually take an Advil and lay down with the eyes closed and it goes away. Didn't know that is what they were called.

ellen abbott said...

My daughter never really had migraines until she got pregnant and developed pre-eclampsia. Her blood pressure shot up and they put her on total bed rest (she was carrying twins). Now she has headaches all the time, not just migraines. Migraines run in our family but she has them the worst of any of us. I still get headaches, usually during the night and I wake up with them but not migraines since menopause.

Mental P Mama said...

Never heard of that....yikes!

Marlene said...

Here's another name for them - "silent migraines". It seems a strange name to me but somehow fits a little. I have found if I have a cup of coffee when one of these start the actual migraine which can follow is warded off. (Or at least I think it works and it is a good excuse for a cup of coffee).

Scared me too the first time it happened.

Nancy said...

Brian - I know - they're really strange.

Hilary - Sorry to hear you suffer from the painful ones. Luckily I have no pain with them.

Reya - I don't have headaches with them either.

Kathy - Yes, that's the correct term - Optical Migraines - I'll have to remember to eat something next time.

Maggie - I had not heard of it either. I've heard of visual flashes with migraines, but not without the headache.

Von - I had them very infrequently until fairly recently.

Jen - Maybe.

Trish & Rob - Luckily I have always been home, so that is exactly what I do.

Bruce - No warning except for a dark space in one eye, then the flashing begins. I usually just sit quietly or lay down until it passes. I got them every few years starting in my early 40's, but they have been increasing slowly. Lately I've had them every few months.

Natalie - It was. Very scary. Now that I know what they are they don't frighten me, but I do take care when getting them.

DJan - Thanks. I do feel very blessed that I don't have the terrible headaches that migraine suffers have to deal with.

Jill - I thought I would post this, just in case someone else had them.

Ellen - I feel bad for your daughter. It must be hard to be a parent and have headaches that come on when you least expect them. Glad yours seem to be clearing up - at least during the day.

Mama - I agree. :-)

Ladybird World Mother said...

Ouch. You poor thing. I wonder how many people reading your blog will realise what they have??
That is amazing.

THE BLONDE TECHIE said...

The Migraine Research Foundation just posted this link on Facebook, so you may get quite a few hits/comments soon.

I've had migraine with aura for over 20 years. If I could go more than a week without a headache, I was a happy camper. The main difference between your video and my experience is mine are black and white. No color. It takes about 15 mins for my aura to reach full strength. When it goes away, I have approx 10 mins before the pain hits.

My husband usually knows if I'm getting a headache before the aura hits. My speech center gets snagged first. I stop making sense and I can't find words. I can't complete sentences. Yay fun.

Once you can get them more under control, life becomes much more manageable.

Rob-bear said...

I get a lot of headaches. They come from some neck injuries received about 35 years ago. But I've never had migraines. Fortunately. My wife has them occasionally, and they are very nasty!

BTW, that top picture looks like "a vicious circle" — as in a circle with teeth! But even the circle is a little "bent out of shape."

Sincere condolences, on the headaches you get from what you see (including this, if applicable).

Grandmother said...

This is very weird as I've been having exactly what you describe and no headache. I'm a nurse but never heard of optical migraines. Well I'll be darned! I tried closing my eyes but I see it with my eyes closed as well and that really freaked me out!

Deborah said...

How very weird not to have pain associated with these! Thanks for the information, ,Nancy, and I do hope that yours do not visit you too often.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Oh I endured migraines years ago, in my 20's and 30's but outgrew them with hormonal changes :) I had never heard of the visual migraine before, but it sure did not look pleasant! Shudder....

Nancy said...

Marlene - I could see how coffee could help. And like you said - a good excuse.

Ladybird - That was the reason for posting this. I thought there were probably others out there worrying, and probably didn't need to.

Blonde - The difficulty putting sentences together would definitely be scary.

Rob-bear - Sorry you suffer from headaches - and your wife as well. It does look like a "viscous circle!" Haha

Grandmother - Then this post was meant for you! :-)

Deborah - Thanks. Now that I know it is not serious, they really don't bother me much.

Pat - I guess a lack of hormones can be good sometimes! :-)

Pat said...

Sorry - didn't even watch the video in case it spurred on a migraine! I suffer from migraines and take daily dosages of medication just to prevent the headaches from occurring. And IF they should occur, I have MORE medication to take to try to fend it off!

Pat said...

Sorry - didn't even watch the video in case it spurred on a migraine! I suffer from migraines and take daily dosages of medication just to prevent the headaches from occurring. And IF they should occur, I have MORE medication to take to try to fend it off!

Nancy said...

Pat - I've heard flashing lights can bring them on. You probably were right not to watch it.

Nancy said...

Thats scary and cool at the same time. I've never had anything like that happen to me.

Nancy said...

Nancy - That is a good thing. :-)

Hilary said...

Like my namesake above, I have had the full blown migraines with the visual aura. The first time I thought I was having a stroke too. Everything just felt so wrong. And then as soon as it faded after about 20 minutes, the killer migraine. I haven't had a true migraine like that for years. I'm glad for you that you don't get the headache along with your aura.

Nancy said...

Hilary - I hope you never get one again.

Emom said...

Whoa.....I am grateful for something else today....I am sorry for anyone that has these, thank you! smiles.

scarlethue said...

Hey Nancy, I get those two. The first time I freaked out. But I called my mom on the way to the hospital, and she told me what it was. They're hereditary, she gets them too. The ones with no pain I've heard called "phantom" migraines. I usually have pain after though-- only once or twice have I had a phantom. Drinking a cup of coffee or some other caffeinated drink while watching the show often helps at least lessen the pain that's to come. Funny thing is I still get other migraines, brought on by weather changes. These are usually triggered by hormones for me, but luckily I haven't had one in a good long while. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

susan said...

If anyone has any noticeable visual disturbance the first thing to do is go to a doctor. They can be signs of problems other than strokes.

The Good Cook said...

Nancy, I had never heard of such a thing. I'm glad there is no pain. My mothered suffered for years with migraine headaches. She says caffeine helps ease them and lessen their severity so your reader who recommends coffee is spot on. Thanks for sharing - I'm sure this has helped many of your readers (based on the comments).

CrazyCris said...

that's really weird! I can see whhy it must have scared you!

kind of reminds me of a text on synesthesia I was working on with my 2nd year psychology students a couple of weeks ago...

I don't get "real" migrains, but almost as bad. My muscles in my shoulder blades get all tense from time to time and the pressure works its way up a nerve along my neck and to my head. The pain is paralyzing. I could follow the path of the nerve pain with a pen and draw it, it's so pronounced. Damn stress!

I hope you don't get many more of these! feel better!!!

California Girl said...

I don't need to watch the movie...I began having migraines in high school while taking typing. The drs thought they were related to my menstrual cycle but I was convinced it was a black/white dark/light problem. Typing class always exacerbated them. I had auras afterwards, like the afterlight of an extremely bright flash that just would not go away and kept that somewhat opaque image in front of my vision. It was awful.

I grew out of them in my early twenties but in my late twenties was diagnosed with adult onset epilepsy. I control it with medicine but there are many similarities between the epileptic effects and auras and the migraines. I believe, in my case, they are linked tho' no doctor has said so.

Marguerite said...

My ex has these and although they are usually not harmful, it's a good idea to have a thorough eye exam, because they can be a sign of a borderline detached retina. Glad you don't have the headaches, too.

Jayne Martin said...

Interesting. That's what my acid-flashbacks usually look like.

Nancy said...

Emom - The are disconcerting, to say the least.

Scarlethue - I get headaches with low pressure systems, too. Particularly if a storm is coming in fast.

susan - I agree. The problem for me and doctors is that they immediately want to put me on a drug of some kind. I've lost some trust in them.

Good Cook - Hopefully someone's worry is put to rest - or they go have it checked out.

Chris - I get the shoulder blade thing too. I've noticed more and more how I tense up right there. Trying to relax them, even though they don't cause stress headaches.

California - I wonder if you have trouble driving with dappled light - like through trees. I was driving yesterday thinking the flashing could cause a problem if you had epilepsy. Glad yours is controlled with meds.

Marguerite - Good point. I'm due for an eye exam.

Jayne - LOL! Oh, is that what this is?

Wendy said...

Must be very scary!

Linda Hoye said...

I have had them off an on for years. They make me feel a bit sick to my stomach as well.

Dr_Plankenstein said...

Just had a spectacular one last night, very colorful zig zag pattern, kind of like a ring shape and I could see through it. Just in the left eye. Lasted 20 minutes and disappeared instantly when I took a sip of coffee. I too was a little worried but wow- what a show.