Well, this is just great.  I just had my first “ocular migraine”.

I was sitting at my desk this morning when right at 9:30 I began to notice a spot near the center of my vision – just a bit up and to the left of my primary focus.  It seemed to be flickering and consisted of a small flickering oval shaped region of lines or narrow triangles.  The thing was flickering very much like that test the optometrist gives you for peripheral vision.  I tried to make sense of it but it was a bit difficult, as if my brain couldn’t decide what it looked like.  At first, I had decided that it looked like the line of “marching ants” you see when you select a region using PhotoShop or a similar computer drawing tool.  Then I decided that it was a bit different – rather than a line it was a thick band in a more or less oval shape.  The texture of the region was changing with each flicker but was more or less like lines or long thin triangles.  It’s funny how difficult it is to put words to it.  It was definitely more than a simple blur though.

As time went on, it became more noticeable.  When I closed first one eye and then the other I realized that it was both eyes which suggested it was my brain causing it and not an eye problem.  This totally freaked me out and I immediately tried to google “stroke symptoms”.  The flickering region got larger as time went on; by the time I had eliminated stroke as the culprit, it had changed from an oval spot to an oval ring.  I grabbed my phone and ran downstairs to hangar area so have a bit of privacy while I called my eye doctor.

As I called him (which was a bit tricky since part of my vision was obscured by this phenomenon) and talked to the receptionist, the ring of flickering got larger and larger.  I got put on hold a couple of times as he consulted with people and my issue got quickly passed on up the chain.  By the time I got someone knowledgeable on the phone, the flickering ring was almost out to the edge of my field of vision.  I got the optometrist’s wife on the phone.

She told me that I was having an “ocular migraine” and she has them too. 

To talk to somebody who has experience with this and to be told that I’m not going to have to be hauled away in an ambulance was one of the biggest moments of relief I’d ever experienced.

She described it to me and it was almost exactly as I had experienced it.  She also told me that there was not a great deal that is known about this phenomenon.  She told me that I may or may not have a severe headache along with nausea within about an hour.  She recommended that I take two Excedrin immediately and hope for the best.  I did that and although I have a slight headache now I haven’t developed a severe one. There are those people who report relief by going to sit in the dark and close their eyes.

Apparently there is no harm that is nor is it an indication of anything else.  It is quite unnerving though.  I do hope it doesn’t continue.  I think that it was all over in 15-20 minutes and she said that was typical; rarely lasting longer than half an hour.

Aside from the obvious concerns, I find this really annoying.  I’m not at all happy to find out that I’ve got some medical issue that is cropping up.  Thus far, I’ve had no medical issues in my life other than bad eyesight.  I used to be plagued by hay fever at certain times of the year but even that has considerably diminished as I got older.  Now to find that I’ve got some possible “medical issue” developing is totally depressing.


Had my first “ocular migraine” today from 9:30am to 10:00am. More info to follow.