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Ocular migraine?

I had a strange episode this morning. I was in an edgy, stressy mood to begin with. A little over an hour after I got to work I suddenly found I couldn't read my computer screen anymore. There was some kind of distortion in my visual field that wasn't allowing me to focus on the words. I sat looking out the window for a bit, but that didn't help. I decided to go for a walk and get some coffee. When I got outside, I noticed that I was having the same problem reading faces as I was having with words. I couldn't focus on faces if I looked at them directly. They looked fragmentary.

After I got my cup of coffee, I started walking around the block. Suddenly I started feeling very woozy and weird, like I was on drugs. I wondered if I was having a stroke, but I couldn't detect any symptoms of speech loss or numbness or tingling. It was just this strangely detached, woozy feeling. Ambient sound seemed very aggressive. I hurried back to the office, thinking I was going to have to ask to be taken to the ER. However, by the time I got back to the office, the feeling was receding. I sat down at my desk, and I continued to feel better. Before long I was feeling tired and vaguely woozy, but I could read my computer screen just fine. Furthermore the stressy feeling had gone away. I felt more peaceful.

It then occurred to me that I'd heard of migraines that resulted in distorted vision but no actual headache. Some googling got me to "ocular migraine", and some of the symptoms described seemed similar to what I'd experienced. "Though they can be frightening, ocular migraines typically are harmless and self-resolve without medication within 20 to 30 minutes." Whatever hit me lasted for about 20-25 minutes.

I don't know for sure that that's what it actually was, but one of the things that jumped out at me in a couple of articles was that a possible trigger for ocular migraines is glaring or flashing light. Just before my episode, the sun had broken through the clouds and flared off the chrome clock sitting under my computer screen. The light flared directly into my eyes, and it was so painful that I actually growled, "Fuck!" as I turned to close the Venetian blinds. As the first wave of visual distortion hit me a minute or two later, I thought my eyes were still blinded by the glare off the clock. It was only after another minute or two of not being able to focus my eyes that I began to wonder if something else was wrong with me.

I've never experienced anything like that before in my life. I don't think there's a lot of history of migraines in my family, although I vaguely think my grandmother suffered from them. Sure hope this isn't a harbinger of things to come.

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
frostfox
Feb. 15th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)
Sounds exactly like a migraine to me, I can head mine off at the pass if I can close my eyes, even for a few minutes.
My main trigger is eye strain, Have you had your eyes examined recently?

FF
randy_byers
Feb. 15th, 2014 12:05 am (UTC)
No, so that's a good thing to know.
surliminal
Feb. 15th, 2014 12:37 am (UTC)
It tends to be very familal - my mother has them regularly and I thought I'd got away with it but have had a few in recent years. The good news is there are now amazing drugs for them. Worth getting a few to carry around in case - I do this now on foreign trips as my trigger appears to be exhaustion related to jet lag plus alcohol.

Edited at 2014-02-15 12:39 am (UTC)
croneitude
Feb. 15th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
Scary! I'm glad that it went away!
randy_byers
Feb. 15th, 2014 03:25 am (UTC)
I definitely felt a bit panicky there for a while! All kinds of crazy thoughts go through you mind, of course.
kate_schaefer
Feb. 15th, 2014 04:05 am (UTC)
I've had one of those, about a year or two ago. It was sure the weirdest thing I'd ever seen. After that first one, I had one other kinda suggestion that I might have another, but it didn't really develop into a full-fledged migraine.

Good luck not having any more.
(Deleted comment)
drplokta
Feb. 15th, 2014 06:00 am (UTC)
I had something very similar, a few years ago. It was pretty alarming at the time. I now get them every few months, and eventually made the link between them and the occasional bad headaches that I've had for years (although usually without visual symptoms, and not always when I do get visual symptoms) and got diagnosed with migraines.
holyoutlaw
Feb. 15th, 2014 06:58 am (UTC)
Wow, pretty scary kids! Glad it worked out.
frostfox
Feb. 15th, 2014 08:27 am (UTC)
Might be worth going to an optician, tell them about this episode too.

FF
magscanner
Feb. 15th, 2014 09:06 am (UTC)
I get 'em. Not often, and usually triggered by food, and just the ocular portion thank gods. Did you see the glowing sawtooth? Article last week related them to vascular compression waves in the brain.
randy_byers
Feb. 15th, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think I saw anything like a sawtooth, glowing or otherwise. There didn't seem to be a pattern to what I saw. Just the opposite, in fact.
replyhazy
Feb. 15th, 2014 07:12 pm (UTC)
DING DING DING YOU WIN THE MIGRAINE PRIZE though I occasionally spell this kind "meyegraine." Suddenly being unable to read the computer screen (or book or whatever) is exactly what happens to me first, and it's often triggered by sudden glare (though for me more often off of snow).

If you have another one that turns into an actual painful headache, do mention to the doc, because sometimes the eye thing is just precursor to actual nasty hide-in-dark-room omg make it stop migraines.

Best of luck and welcome to the club. You should get your secret decoder ring RSN.
randy_byers
Feb. 15th, 2014 07:19 pm (UTC)
Oh boy, oh boy, a secret decoder ring! What's that you say? It opens up a world of pain? Well, fuck a duck!
magscanner
Feb. 15th, 2014 07:38 pm (UTC)
This article has a discussion of the visual phenomena, and links to the medical journal article about the vascular waves.

http://boingboing.net/2014/02/04/how-hallucinatory-art-led-to-a.html

Take a look at both, even if you're not seeing the sawtooth. The "bean" is the shape of the missing vision. The first this happened to me, I was in the library looking through art books for an image to use on a book cover, and when the middle of the picture disappeared I wondered if I was going blind. Nope, just a small quake in the brain physical chemistry.
mrhedgehog
Feb. 15th, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
I've also had a couple over the last 5 years, but milder than what you describe. Reading about it after the first time I picked up on that it could be a symptom of stress, which made sense to me. And you also say you were in a stressy mood.
randy_byers
Feb. 16th, 2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, I saw that stress can be a trigger too, so I'm sure it was in the mix somewhere. I've got a long week of vacation coming up, so I hope I can unwind a bit.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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