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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 10599
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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What causes onset of seeing prisms in your eye?

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What might cause sudden onset of seeing "prisms"? The episode lasted about 15 minutes; I could see the prisms whether my eyes were open or shut. The prisms were only to the left side of vision field; started as just a small arc and grew to about 3/4 of a circle. I did not experience a headache, but did have some odd feeling of pressure and some naseua. I am an ITP patient; my last platelet count was 53,000. My blood glucose was 108 this morning and blood pressure 130/75.

It sounds like you are having an ocular migraine.

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.

This is nothing to worry about. It is not a sign of a more serious underlying condition, brain tumor or anything like that. If the episodes become so frequent that they are bothersome there are medicines that can be used to decrease their frequency or stop an episode once it has started.

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