About 10 years ago I had a really scary experience. One that I had never experienced or heard about.
I was just going about my life when all of a sudden, I started seeing flashing lights in both of my eyes. The best way that I can describe it would be that it’s almost like looking into a kaleidoscope or seeing sparkly broken glass in your visual field.
Through the Motions
I remember not knowing what to do. What is this? Should I go to the ER? What caused my vision to change so abruptly?
I remember feeling terrified as my vision became more and more obscured. With each passing minute, I felt that I was losing more and more of my “sight.”
I decided to ride through the motions of it all because I had never experienced this before. The visual disturbances lasted about 30 minutes and following that was a headache.
Once I regained my sight, I remember going straight to Dr. Google to look up my symptoms. I wanted to see what this experience could be and if it was a true medical emergency.
It didn’t take long before I was staring at a term called “ocular migraine.” I read through the description and symptoms and BAM! It matched; this is what I was experiencing.
A Visit with the Doctor
I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist. I remember her doing many different eye exams and tests. She also dilated my eyes to get a better view of my eye health and see if anything else could be causing this issue.
Thankfully, the eye doctor told me that it was in fact an ocular migraine and thankfully my eye health was good. This new diagnosis was a relief to me. See, Dr. Google can be right sometimes!
I get ocular migraines typically every three to four months. They come on suddenly without much warning and have appeared in the least convenient places.
I’ve gotten them while driving and I had to pull over, while shopping in the stores, and at work several times where I have to go to a dark room and close my eyes.
These are my biggest ocular migraine triggers:
- Fatigue/Lack of sleep
- Too much screen time
- Not resting my eyes enough
This is what I do to stop an ocular migraine attack:
- Using a cold cloth on my eyes
- Essential oil roll-on that goes on my temples
- Laying in a dark room
- Deep breathing, trying to relax my mind
- Closing my eyes
It Could Be Worse
Thankfully, at least for me, ocular migraines are more of an annoyance than they are painful. The visual disturbances are very difficult to deal with because it gets to the point where I can’t read any words and parts of the room or people’s faces are blurred out by bright sparkling lights in my field of vision.
The headache that follows the visual disturbances is usually mild for me and one that I don’t typically need to treat with any medication. This is unlike a true migraine; I have heard those are incredibly painful.
One scary thing that I learned recently is that having ocular migraines puts me at a much higher risk for a stroke because they are caused by a lack of blood flow and/or collapse of the blood vessels in the eye. The fact that this is happening in my eyes, makes it possible for it to happen in my brain.
Lately, They Have Increased
For the last few months, I’ve been getting ocular migraines way more often than usual, and I can pinpoint why. Unfortunately, all of my triggers are present in my life at the moment.
I have been losing a lot of sleep, I’ve been more stressed than usual, I hardly ever drink, but I did for Christmas and New Year’s, and I’ve been reading and writing a lot more!
Have you or someone you know ever experienced an ocular migraine?