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Dr. Dan B.
Dr. Dan B., Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 3343
Experience:  Eye surgeon experienced in cataracts, glaucoma, retina & neuro-ophthalmology
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Seeing rainbow colors off the side of ONE EYE

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My wife is seeing weird rainbow colors off the side of ONE EYE...
Should I take her to the ER?

Hello and thanks for your question.
Did she cover the eye in question and see that these rainbow colors went away, or is it just that she sees the rainbow colors off to one side of her visual field?

JACUSTOMER-qqwqkkv0- :
When she covered the affected eye she could still see the rainbow

Doctor DanB :
Okay. Did this come on gradually or suddenly? How long has she been seeing this?

JACUSTOMER-qqwqkkv0- :
She says that in 15 minutes... it's gone away... but now she feels WEIRD...
She said... it's like a "prism" with weird shapes
came on suddenly - went away suddenly 15 minutes - total
lasted for 13 minutes - scared the crap out of her

Doctor DanB :
In what way does she feel weird? Headaches? Confusion? Weakness/numbness? Difficulty walking/talking/swallowing?

JACUSTOMER-qqwqkkv0- :
she says: "headache - in my eyes"... kinda like a HEAD in the VICE.
She is NOT confused... seems to move well...

Doctor DanB :
Did the headache start after the light show started? Any nausea, irritability, light-sensitivity?

JACUSTOMER-qqwqkkv0- :
Headache started AFTER the light show... No nausea, irratablity.. doesn't seem to be light sensative.
she says she just wants to close her eyes now.
She's resting in the recliner.

Doctor DanB :
I assume this is the first time she's experienced anything like this?

JACUSTOMER-qqwqkkv0- :
She's never experienced ANYTHING like this.
She says that the light show is completely gone... now.

Doctor DanB :
Here's a couple of questions (my last two) that may seem a bit off beat:
1. Does she/did she ever get car sick (esp as a child)?
2. Does anyone she is blood related to have a history of migraine headaches?

JACUSTOMER-qqwqkkv0- :
Okay... She doesn't get car sick IF she eats... No history of relative Migrains...
We saw "precursor to Migraine" in google...

Doctor DanB :
Thanks for your patience answering all of my questions. I'm at somewhat of a disadvantage diagnosing things when I can't examine the patient, so the extra attention to the medical history is very useful.

Google has it right. Your wife's symptoms sound very consistent with 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 she starts to have other symptoms such as loss of vision in one eye, double vision, difficulty talking or swallowing, or experiences numbness or weakness in any specific part of the body, these are symptoms which are not normal for migraines and she should see either her primary care doctor or an emergency room doctor as soon as possible.

Does that make sense?

So, to summarize, in the absence of symptoms such as loss of vision in one eye, double vision, difficulty talking or swallowing, or experiences numbness or weakness in any specific part of the body, I don't think she needs to go to the ER. I do think, however, it would be good to get into see her primary care provider and her eye doctor in the near future.

JACUSTOMER-qqwqkkv0- :
This makes perfect sense

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