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Dr. Dan B.
Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
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Experience:  Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
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Twice now I have experienced an unexpected blindspot-like effect

Resolved Question:

Twice now I have experienced an unexpected blindspot-like effect in my vision. Initially it seems like a normal blindspot, but it persists and actually grows larger and more vivid over a period of several minutes. It partially disrupts my vision. After 20 minutes or so it has grown into a crack-like shape that extends from near my center of vision to the right-edge of my peripheral vision. Then it begins to grow dull and disappear. If I focus on the blindspot I see that it shows geometric sawtooth-like patterns in it, which is visually different than a normal bright-light-induced blindspot.

I do not suffer from migraines and very rarely get headaches.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Eye
Expert:  Dr. Dan B. replied 2 years ago.

Doctor DanB : Hello and thanks for your question. Is it in one eye or both? Do you get nauseous or light-sensitive with it?
Customer:

I think it affected my right-eye, but it is difficult to tell. Perhaps both? I did get a little nauseous after the effect went away, and also a slight headache. I did not notice any light sensitivity.

Doctor DanB : I think this represents a migraine. A typical migraine starts with an abnormal “light show” which sometimes is described as shimmering or zig-zag lights, which can sometimes surround a blurry area of the vision. They tend to progressively increase in intensity and sometimes march across the visual field. Many times this is then accompanied by nausea, irritability, sensitivity to bright lights and/or loud noises, but everyone's pattern is different; some people don't have any of these other symptoms. After the onset of the lights (called scintillating scotomas), a headache (and/or possibly eye pain) typically starts and the light show tends to progressively go away.  The visual phenomenon that people experience with migraines do vary from person to person but often involve blurry vision with a lighted phenomenon; many people describe them as shimmering, but most consistently is an abnormal lighted visual phenomenon which is sometimes associated with blurring or hazy vision.  One of the hallmarks of a person with a typical migraine headache is their need to abandon all activity in favor of a quiet, dark room where they can sleep off the headache. One of the less commonly known features of migraines is that many persons can have this visual migraine phenomenon without actually having headache; this is called an acephalgic migraine. The spectrum of severity of headaches among migraine sufferers runs the gamut from no headache to severe, debilitating headaches. There tend to be many varied triggers for migraines, but some of the most common are chocolate, wine and cheese, stress, overuse of the eyes, and exposure to fluorescent lighting.  Many people find that over-the-counter migraine preparations such as Excedrin-migraine work well. The common theme among these preparations is the ingredient of caffeine. There are prescription medicines that can be taken on a daily basis to help prevent them (if they become frequent enough to alter your life) and there are also medicines that can be taken on an as needed basis to help abort the headaches once they start. Most primary care doctors feel comfortable prescribing these, but if not, a neurologist would be a good place to start. If you are having other symptoms such as loss of vision in one eye, double vision, difficulty talking or swallowing, or are experiening numbness or weakness in any specific part of the body, these are symptoms which are not normal for migraines and you should see either your primary care doctor or an emergency room doctor as soon as possible.  
Doctor DanB : Does this make sense?  Does this information help address your concerns?  Do you have any other concerns or questions about this topic?  It appears as though you are not in the chat room currently.  I am happy to be able to help you today. I will also be happy to answer any other questions until you have the information you need.   If you would like to ask further questions or clarification regarding anything I've said, please let me know and I will be happy to address your concerns. Your feedback is important to me and will help me improve my encounter with future customers.  If this process has been helpful, please rate your encounter with me by providing positive feedback; any bonus you may feel prompted to provide would be welcomed and is appreciated. This does not end our conversation, however-we can continue to discuss any of your concerns without further charges until you are satisfied.  My opinion is solely informative and does not constitute a formal medical opinion or recommendation. For a formal medical opinion and/or recommendation you must see an eye doctor.  Thanks for your inquiry! 
Customer:

I looked up scintillating scotomas and it seems to match the symptoms I experienced. Thank you.

Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3176
Experience: Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
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