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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11232
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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I rubbed my left eye and experienced a half circle of a zig-zag

Customer Question

I rubbed my left eye and experienced a half circle of a zig-zag light that blinked for about 5 mins and then the circle narrowed and then disappeared. Should I make an appt with my eye doctor. I have been on a strong antibiotic for the past 6 days because of an upper repiratory infection. Could this be the reason?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.

Dr. Rick :

Hi. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.

Dr. Rick :

I don't believe that your antibiotics had anything to do with your eye issue.

Dr. Rick :

The most common cause for the temporary flashing lights you saw is an ocular migraine.

Dr. Rick :

A typical migraine headache starts with shimmering lights, often times they surround a blurry area or have dots or jaggedly lines associated with them. They tend to progressively increase in intensity and sometimes march across the visual field causing difficulty with reading. Many times this is then accompanied by nausea, irritability, sensitivity to bright lights and/or loud noises. After the onset of the lights (called scintillating scotomas), the headache typically starts and the light show tends to progressively go away.

Many people can have this migraine phenomenon without the headache; it is called an acephalgic migraine. Some people even start having these late in life, or may have had a few much earlier in life that behaved differently and haven't had any for decades and then begin to have them; this is not uncommon. A family history of migraines is often present as well.


Dr. Rick :

This, of course, would have just occurred coincidental to rubbing your eyes. It is nothing to be worried of.

Dr. Rick :

Another, less likely, cause of your symptoms is stimulation of your retina from rubbing your eyes. This usually is nothing to worry about also.....

Dr. Rick :

If you are concerned a complete eye exam by your ophthalmologist would rule out any serious pathology. My opinion, however, is that you don't have to worry.

Dr. Rick :

Does this make sense to you?

Dr. Rick :

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Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
I am still here if you would like to discuss this further.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have not have had a migraine for years but do have flashes of light, like a firecracker from time to time over the years and had a thorough exam about a year ago. Do you feel I can wait and call for an appt next week? Any need to go to ER?
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
You can wait for an appointment next week. There is no need to go to the ER at all.......
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
If this semi circular zig-zag light should occur again within 24 hours, should I do something then?
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
If you see a sudden number of dots/bugs/hairs etc, floating in your visual field, a "thunder storm" of flashing lights, or a curtain coming across your vision from any direction, then you should see an ophthalmologist ASAP as this could be the signs of a retinal detachment.

I do not believe you are at risk for this complication and I'm only mentioning it to be through. Don't worry :o)

Otherwise, even if you see the same sort of temporary zig zag lights again in 24hrs, you need not rush to an week will be fine.

Dr. Rick and other Eye Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
One more question and I am sure I will be ok. My Mother had macular degeneration and as of my last exam (about a yr ago) everything was A-ok. Would this episode have anything to do with macular degereration warning signs? Needless to say, I have that always in the back of my mind as I understand it is often passed to the next generation. Thank you for your patience with me.

BTW, I do have a slight headache on the left side of my head now...perhaps from the zig zag flashing lights or just worry!
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
No. These symptoms have nothing at all to do with macular degeneration.

Headache, eh? Hmmmmmm... ;o)
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dull headache. Just took a couple of ibuprofen. So, still nothing to worry about then?
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
That is correct. Nothing to worry about.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Ok then, Dr. Rick. I am going to sign off now and "not worry". I would recommend this service to anyone and will actually post this info on FB as I am a senior citizen now and these weird things seem to come with the territory. The price is also very reasonable for a fixed income person, as myself.
Not only have you been very thorough and patient with my questions, answering them with great information and so pleasant in nature. Oh how I wish all doctors would be so pleasant while dishing out their knowledge.
Have a good day, as I will, now that I am not worried.
Expert:  Dr. Rick replied 6 years ago.
My can say those nice things in a positive feedback if you want.... :)

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