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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 10582
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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I was at home this morning and suddenly could not see well

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I was at home this morning and suddenly could not see well - particularly out of the left eye and it mainly affected by left field of vision. I was seeing trailing, wavy lights and it made it very hard to focus to see properly. I recently returned from hiking in Peru at high altitude (5 days ago) and had just finished a strong cup of coffee this morning. Historically I have had high eye pressure in both eyes (24 - 26) but the opthalmologist also said I have thick corneas which are causing those higher readings. I am 42 and do have a family hx of glaucoma and macular degeneration. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hi. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.

How long did this episode last?

Has your vision returned to normal at this point?

Other then the slightly elevated eye pressure (which the thick corneas, as you have noted, could explain) do you have any medical problems?

Do you take any medication?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. I look forward to helping you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The episode lasted about 30 minutes and has seems to have stopped now. I did have contacts in at the time and removed them (same Rx in each eye) and there was no change. While hiking in Peru I was taking Diamox but stopped that medicine a week ago. I did experience some altitude sickness while there that required oxygen but was otherwise ok. I also take Lexapro for anxiety. I have no other medical problems and am in good health, normal weight, etc.




Thank you for your help with this!


Good news! I know exactly what happened.....and it is not from a brain tumor (Admit it -- you thought of this as a possibility ;)

Let me explain:

What you are describing is consistent with ocular migraines, a condition that I not only treat in my office but that I have been dealing with personally for decades.

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.

I, personally, have been suffering from this condition for almost 30 years. I almost never got the headaches after the visual effects.
There was one time, I was in the middle of a very delicate retina operation, when an attack started. After a few moments I lost most of my central vision and the inferior part of my visual field. I, calmly, removed my surgical instruments from the patients eye and we all sat around in the OR for 15 minutes until my vision returned. Other than that my ocular migraines have not really caused me any significant problems :o)

Does this make sense to you?

I hope this information was helpful for you. But I do work for tips so I want to make sure you are happy with me before rating me. If you have another question on this or a related issue feel free to fire away. You may also receive an email survey after our chat, if you don’t feel that I have earned a “10” rating in all areas, please let me know what I can do to meet your expectations.

Thanks in advance,

Dr. Rick MD FACS
Dr. Rick and other Eye Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much for your help, Dr Rick! Excellent info and very helpful! I can relax now and I hope you have a great weekend. :)


The pleasure was all mine.

Let me know if there is anything I can do for you in the future. :)