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Visual Disturbance
Old 07-30-2009, 03:22 PM   #1
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Visual Disturbance

I had my first and only ophthalmic migraine back in Feb/March of this year. I had three self-diagnosed migraine headaches during one week back in '95 but none before or since. I was suffering from end-stage renal failure at the time so that may have had something to do with that. My recent "visual disturbance" came and went in about 12 minutes. It was not accompanied by a headache or anything else. I saw a jagged white line in the upper left quadrant of my left eye. behind it (even further upper left) was a blinking checkerboard pattern. I told my wife "Something is really wrong." I waited a few minutes to see what happened and we discussed calling the ambulance or driving to the emergency room. Then it just went away.

I mentioned it on my yearly visit to the ophthalmologist I see for diabetic eye care. He suggested seeing a neurologist "who might want an MRI."

The neurologist wanted an MRI of my brain, and MRAs of my neck and brain. Just finished getting them today. I am going back to the neurologist next week.

Mike D.
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Old 07-30-2009, 04:14 PM   #2
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Mike, seems as if you can't catch a break with your health. Hope you get good news from the neurologist and don't forget to come back and update with the results.
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Old 07-30-2009, 04:22 PM   #3
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Sorry for your latest mystery health problem. Sounds like you are in good hands. Migraine can occur without pain (just the ocular symptoms) but retinal problems do need to be ruled out as you've done. Did he do carotid Dopplers or go right to the MRA?
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Old 07-30-2009, 04:34 PM   #4
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I have never heard the term carotid doppler before so I guess I didn't have that test. Is it a sonogram? He (the neurologist) did spend a lot of time listening to my neck blood vessels with his stethoscope.

I have yet to mention this to my internist but will be doing so in September at my regulat appt.

My new neuro guy is very young with only two years of practice as a doctor for a living, so to speak. He is impatient and doesn't let me finish a sentence and decides what he thinks I am saying before I am done saying it. I have to correct misperceptions about half the time. I usually like older, more experienced doctors.

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Old 07-30-2009, 05:52 PM   #5
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Yes, it's a high tech type of ultrasound study. Some might do that in lieu of an MRA but both are good tests.

I know what you mean about that anticipatory, impatient interactive style. It's hard to train out of someone, almost part of their personality. Not for me either. I always figured it was acceptable for a doctor I might only see on a few-time basis (like a surgeon or a situation like yours), but I wouldn't tolerate it in my primary care doctor.

Long ago I had a partner like that - his patients I might see in coverage often asked if they could switch doctors (we didn't allow that within the group unless the physician being fired initiated it).
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Old 07-30-2009, 11:29 PM   #6
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I've never had a regular migraine headache but I had an ophthalmic migraine twice.

I've been very nearsighted since I was a kid and my first eye doctor told me I had loose retinas and that I should be aware of the symptoms of a detached retina. So when I had a crosshatch/tweed like pattern shimmering and flashing in my vision I worried that it was a sign of a retinal detachment.

There was no pain, no headache or dizziness. It lasted about an hour or so. I got an emergency appointment the next day with an ophthalmologist and he told me it was an ophthalmic migraine and it was pretty much just a fluke and I shouldn't worry about it.

It happened again years later, didn't last very long and I didn't panic. My current ophthalmologist wasn't concerned about it either. With your other health issues it sounds like a good idea to get it all checked out. I hope your results turn out good.
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Old 07-31-2009, 12:01 AM   #7
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Beats me. I have had floaters for decades and 'cataracts' for a while. I had flashes in my eyes when I was young and worked VERY hard as a millwright's helper in a paper mill.

Never had migraines.

Sorry, doc. All I can offer is, take really good care of your eyes.
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:50 AM   #8
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when I had a crosshatch/tweed like pattern shimmering and flashing in my vision I worried that it was a sign of a retinal detachment.
I am sure your doctors have filled you in on the symptoms of retinal detachment and what to look out for. Retinal detachment is indeed something worth worrying about with strange symptoms like that. It runs in my family for some reason, affecting several of the men on my father's side. At least in the variety that my family gets, the symptoms always seem to be described as a black curtain progressing across the field of vision.

My grandfather became totally blind in 1949, a year after I was born, due to retinal detachments associated with cataract surgery. That was before the (laser) surgerical procedure was invented that might have saved his vision by re-attaching his retinas. These days retinal detachments often can be successfully treated with laser surgery so it is important to get medical attention right away.
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:57 AM   #9
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I have had migraines for many years that consist only of a visual disturbance. They start with a small swirling area in the middle of my visual field and gradually expand, over about a twenty minute until they are beyond my field of vision. That's it. No headache.
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Old 07-31-2009, 04:51 PM   #10
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I have had migraines for many years that consist only of a visual disturbance. They start with a small swirling area in the middle of my visual field and gradually expand, over about a twenty minute until they are beyond my field of vision. That's it. No headache.
Most of my migraines were of that variety.

Given the OPs background, he probably should see a doctor.
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:31 AM   #11
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I have had migraines for many years that consist only of a visual disturbance. They start with a small swirling area in the middle of my visual field and gradually expand, over about a twenty minute until they are beyond my field of vision. That's it. No headache.

My gosh, finally some folks who are talking about exactly what I've experience a couple time a year or so for almost 25 years! I remember clearly the first time it happened. In 1984, I was in Austin, TX and had just left a car dealer's lot after really having a heated exchange with a salesman. I was pissed, and as I was headed north on IH-35 back towards home, I suddenly got these squiggley lines and flashing lights in my eyes, or actually it was just one eye I think. I thought I was having a stroke, it scared the hell out of me.

I pulled off the road & just sat there, not sure what to do but scared I was gonna die. After awhile, it subsided, and I could see well enough to drive home. I went to the Dr., expecting to here some really bad news. At the time, nobody said the word migraine to me, they just checked me over & said I hadn't had a stroke, heart attack etc, and just to relax. Maybe stress-related. Over the years, I've had this happen a number of times, but it's infrequent, maybe 2-3 times a year, and sometimes there's a dull headache afterwards, but not always.

I've asked doctors about it on a couple other occaisions, and they both told me, after doing exams, stress tests, etc., that it was a migraine. I've learned that if the moment I think it's about to happen, I take a couple of aspirins, it seems to lessen the severity, and length of time of the symptoms, and may help reduce the headache effect. The frequency doesn't seem to have increased any after all these years, so now when it happens, I don't panic, I just take the aspirins & relax till it's gone. It may be my imagination, but it seems like suddenly being exposed to a very bright light might trigger things sometimes. Could be my imagination, though. But....I really thank you guys for posting about this!
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:53 AM   #12
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Here's a previous thread on this topic.
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Old 08-02-2009, 06:26 PM   #13
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MikeD,

Let us know what happens.

I'm 55. I had a visual event about 15 years ago during high stress at work. Things looked miles away, and I just felt strange. I lost vision. Spots were just blank, not blacked out, just gone. The eye dr said it was a "migraine without".

Now, more recently, I've been getting the zigzag multicolored lightning bolt in the shape of a C. Happens once every 2 months, approximately. I get in in both eyes the same, so I guess it's not a retina problem. Lasts 20 minutes, then goes away. Thought I was stroking out the first time it happened. I plan on not telling my eye dr about this stuff since I don't want all the tests, and mostly because I don't want it on my record as yet another life-ruining "pre-existing condition".


Good luck.
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Old 08-02-2009, 09:28 PM   #14
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MikeD,

Let us know what happens.

I'm 55. I had a visual event about 15 years ago during high stress at work. Things looked miles away, and I just felt strange. I lost vision. Spots were just blank, not blacked out, just gone. The eye dr said it was a "migraine without".

Now, more recently, I've been getting the zigzag multicolored lightning bolt in the shape of a C. Happens once every 2 months, approximately. I get in in both eyes the same, so I guess it's not a retina problem. Lasts 20 minutes, then goes away. Thought I was stroking out the first time it happened. I plan on not telling my eye dr about this stuff since I don't want all the tests, and mostly because I don't want it on my record as yet another life-ruining "pre-existing condition".


Good luck.

That's pretty much an exact description of what I get, but not nearly as frequently as 2 months. The way you describe it though, is very accurate.
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Had my Neuro Visit
Old 08-06-2009, 05:20 PM   #15
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Had my Neuro Visit

I saw my neurologist Tuesday. He said that my MRI and MRAs showed normal brain mass and blood vessels. Nothing showed as wrong or irregular. I had a 1 mm pouch by one of my blood vessels in my brain but that is not considered alarming unless they are 7 mm or greater. The radiologist's report said I was "grossly normal" which my wife agreed with.

The neuro's only advice was to take an asprin a day. I reminded him that I was on Plavix and he said that I was fine.

So, I guess it's no big deal.

Mike D.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:15 PM   #16
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That's great news Mike!
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:31 PM   #17
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MikeD,

Let us know what happens.

I'm 55. I had a visual event about 15 years ago during high stress at work. Things looked miles away, and I just felt strange. I lost vision. Spots were just blank, not blacked out, just gone. The eye dr said it was a "migraine without".

Now, more recently, I've been getting the zigzag multicolored lightning bolt in the shape of a C. Happens once every 2 months, approximately. I get in in both eyes the same, so I guess it's not a retina problem. Lasts 20 minutes, then goes away. Thought I was stroking out the first time it happened. I plan on not telling my eye dr about this stuff since I don't want all the tests, and mostly because I don't want it on my record as yet another life-ruining "pre-existing condition".


Good luck.
John,

I would get that checked out if I were in your shoes. My sister experienced a similar problem and her doctor initially diagnosed migraines. Several years and an MRI later, she found out that she had a meningioma (non-malignant tumor) the size of an orange growing in her skull that was compressing her brain. She had surgery a year and a half ago and is doing great.

Isn't it a shame that many people (myself included) are reluctant to fully address our medical needs for fear of getting locked out of future health insurance?

Zan
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