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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 11360
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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I am a 82 year old female, for many years now I have

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I am a 82 year old female, for many years now I have experienced silver lines in my
sight. These last no more than 20 minutes, always the same time frame for these
spells . For years I would experience one or two a year, however, now I am having them
almost daily. I have questioned several doctors, no one knew that it is untill my
eye doctor said that it was the beginning of a migraine headache that never goes
full blown... My question to you is why am I experincing so frequent spells now, and
what can I do about it? Thank you. Billie
Hi. I'm online and happy to answer your question today.

I agree with your eye doctor. What you are experiencing is consistent with ocular migraines. You may already know this, but let me give you some background on this issue:

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.

Now. As to your question.....

It is not uncommon for the symptoms of ocular migraine to change over the years. Mine, for instance, have almost completely stopped since I hit my 50's -- I used to get them at least 4x/week during my 30's.....

I have treated a large number of patients like yourself who suddenly start having these attacks frequently. In the vast majority of patients your age, even after an extensive workup, no pathology is found.

So. What is the take home message? We really don't know why these ocular migraines suddenly become more frequent but it is rarely a sign of anything serious.

If you are concerned you could consult a neurologist......but I do not think, from what you have posted, that it is necessary.

Does this make sense to you, Billie?

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Let me know if you have further questions.

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