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Dr. A.S. Desai
Dr. A.S. Desai, Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 2055
Experience:  MS Ophthalmology with 11 years of surgical expereince
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yesterday morning I started experiencing a visual line of light

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yesterday morning I started experiencing a visual line of light in the bottom half of my right eye. It's color varies as either light or dark. The visual comes and goes most of the time but i have gone an hour without it. I went to the eye doctor and had a full examination and he told me that my eyes were fine. He thought it may be an ocular migraine which I have never experienced before. When I woke up this morning the same line appeared and sitting in the dark I was able to reproduce it by closing my eye and then opening it but i can't do that at the moment. I've had no headaches. Do these symptoms sound consistent with an ocular migraine? If so, how long can these symptoms last?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. A.S. Desai replied 3 years ago.

Dr. A.S. Desai :

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Dr. A.S. Desai :

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Dr. A.S. Desai :

I shall type my response here so that you can view it later once you are available again.

Dr. A.S. Desai :

What you have observed is called photopsia or flashes of light. This is often seen in those conditions in which there is irritation to the retina. It certainly is a feature of ocular migraine. In ocular migraine the headache component may or may not be seen. Migraine can be associated with flashes of light and scintillating scotoma( part of the visual field may appear blurred). It can last from few minutes to a hour or so. The frequency of episodes can vary from person to person. There can be aggravating or relieving factors for the episodes. Aggravating factors can be either in the form of some food/sound/visual stimulus. If none of the aggravating factors are seen then it can occur just anytime. Though there are no medicines which can be used for prevention of these ocular symptoms, the associated headaches can be prevented with prophylactic medicines such as Tab.Flunarizine, 5 mg at bedtime( can cause drowsiness in some).

Dr. A.S. Desai :

The other condition where you can experience flashes of light and floaters is posterior vitreous detachment(PVD).PVD is a condition in which the thick gel at the back of the eye gets detached from its retinal attachment as a result of aging. During this the retina gets irritated or kind of stretched and gives rise to the symptom of flashes of light. Once the vitreous gets detached , it gets clumped and gives rise to the symptom of floaters ( wavy line/cobwebs/black strings). It is otherwise a harmless condition which needs no further treatment except for the fact that very rarely it may induce tiny peripheral retinal tears. Now these retinal tears can be detected by a dilated eye exam and if found they can be safely sealed with lasers. If left alone the retinal tears have a remote tendency to get converted into a frank retinal detachment. The visual acuity remains more or less good except when obscured by a large floater.

Dr. A.S. Desai :

If you have got a dilated eye exam done by an ophthalmologist(eye MD and not an optometrist) then I guess there is nothing to worry about any kind of peripheral retinal tears. But if the eye doctor who examined you was not an ophthalmologist , then it would be wise to get it done in the next few days.

Dr. A.S. Desai :

A word of caution here is that if any further episodes of flashes of light do occur with sudden floaters or sudden reduction in vision( as if seeing through a curtain or veil) then do get the dilated eye exam done ASAP so as to check for intactness of the retina( such an acute presentation can occur in a frank retinal detachment).This is very rare in normal individuals and is more often seen in those predisposed to it such as high myopia( short sightedness).

Dr. A.S. Desai :

Please feel free to ask follow up questions , if any.




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Views expressed are for information purpose only and cannot substitute a visit to an ophthalmologist


Expert:  Dr. A.S. Desai replied 3 years ago.
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Expert:  Dr. A.S. Desai replied 3 years ago.
I am available here for further discussion.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
thank you and i will accept your answer but assuming this is ocular migraine given that i've had a full exam by an opthalmologist, how long do these flashes typically occur. It's already been a full day.
Expert:  Dr. A.S. Desai replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

Thank you for the reply .

It is good to know that you have had an eye exam by an ophthalmologist as it atleast rules out the possibility of a peripheral retinal tear as the cause of flash of light. There is no pattern for ocular migraine presentation or time frame. There have been instances of single episodes with no recurrances while there have instances wherein the flashes of light have been as recurrent as every day. Since your symptoms are only intermittent with no change in your vision, I guess the symptoms should subside over the next couple of days.There is nothing to worry as long as your eye exam shows a normal retina with normal vision in both eyes( as confirmed in your case by the ophthalmologist already).

Here is a link to an interesting article -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scintillating_scotoma

Thank you and best wishes
Dr. A.S. Desai, Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 2055
Experience: MS Ophthalmology with 11 years of surgical expereince
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