Eye/brain question: should I be worried about this?

And if so what kind of doctor should I go to?

Occasionally in the past I have gotten these effects that appear to be like after-images peripherally in my eye(s). They were persistent for maybe 15 or 20 minutes and were not actually the effect of exposure to a bright light, as a real after-image would be. After the effect stopped each time, it was a long time between occurrences.

This week it has happened twice, and the second time is happening right now. There is a sort of kaleidoscope effect off to the left of center, in a curve from top left down to bottom center, with moving lines (like a kaleidoscope only with lines instead of geometric shapes). If I cover one eye it appears in the remaining eye, and it does that for both eyes. Therefore I conclude that the effect is being generated not in the eyes but somewhere after the retina, such as the optic nerve, or the vision center of the brain. I should mention that I wear glasses, for myopia, astigmatism, and since I started getting old, inability to focus on small near things like small type.

In the time it has taken to type this it has started to go away again. I haven’t worried about it before, but twice in one week seems a bit much.

Anyone else experience this sort of thing?

First, IANAD.

Sounds like perhaps you are experiencing ocular migraines?

Still, I would suggest getting your eyes checked. Assuming nothing is found then the eye doc would know who to refer you to.

Thanks. I should also say that there is no physical pain associated with this phenomenon.

I get the same thing (ocular migraines), as did my mother. No pain involved.

I get them, too. My symptoms are sparkles in the periphery of the visual field and a blind area in the center, which both dissipate after about 15 minutes. No pain.

I’ve had ocular migraines. Some pain, but not like a real migraine headache. The visual disturbances are surreal. They go away if I take a migraine pill, in my case, sumatriptan.

I get this occasionally, it starts with a slight distortion right in the middle of the field of vision, but one side only, and gradually moves outwards as you describe in a semicircle until it vanishes out of the field of vision. I went to the doctor about it when it happened the first time and she said it was stress and nothing to worry about.

Not all “real” migraines hurt as badly as we expect, either, though. I get migraines of wildly varying levels of pain, from a dull persistent ache that appears about an hour after a visual aura as described by the OP to much more severe pain.

Oh, absolutely. I got the excruciating kind of migraines as a teen, and they had me on my back, in a dark room, trying not to move a muscle, and feeling like I could violently vomit at any minute.

Now, I get headaches that I can play through. They very occasionally come with nausea, but not always. I know they are migraines, according to my doctor, because they don’t go away, except with a triptan. If ordinary OTC painkillers don’t touch them, and they have the same kind of triggers as a 5-alarm migraine, even if they are just a dull ache, they are migraines.

I also experience what OP describes, though my episodes last for only a minute or less. There is no associated pain, and it is very rare: less than once a year IIRC. Lately, twice a month or so, I get a similar effect but more “lumpy” than “sparkly.”

Occasionally I get mild headaches, maybe three or so different types of headache. I’ve wondered which type was “migraine” but my sister informs me that if I get a migraine I’ll know — the pain is horrid.

Agreed with other posters. Sounds like an ocular migraine, but you should go to your GP just in case. Sparklies can also be a sign of a retina issue.

Here’s a couple of websites with visualisations of ocular migraines:




Don’t fuck around with this. Sure it is nice to have a bunch of folks on the internet to say “happens to me…no biggie”.

BUTT these symptoms could ALSO be an indicator of some serious shit. Serious shit that if addressed quickly might be “fixed”. Or serious shit that if NOT addressed quickly that may well fuck up your life…

Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. I should clarify that what I see is not sparkly but a repetitive distorting movement of part of the visual field.

I will take it to my PCP and see what he says. I predict he’ll refer me to an ophthalmologist in his network; he loves to refer me to specialists in his network.

Is that what those are called? You’ve described to an exact T what I experience. I’ve been getting those (infrequently) for years
and always wondered what they were and should I go to the doc. That worry ramped up after my dad had to have a detached retina repaired some years ago.

No pain, but emotionally/mentally discomfiting all the same, especially when you have to pull over the car and wait for it to pass.

Make sure that if you get a referral that you have a conversation about whether it should be to a neurologist or an ophthalmologist or both. I actually tend to think that a neurologist would be more helpful to you, based on your descriptions. This sounds like a brain thing rather than an eye thing.

ETA: I’ve been having brain issues for several years now, hence my recommendation.

Wow, I finally learned what this is called! I have the Scintillating scotomavariety, and have had it infrequently for years. They seem to come in episodes, where I’ll have a few for a week or so, then nothing for months. Since they have no other symptoms besides the temporary visual disturbance, I’ve never sought medical advice, but always wondered it was. **Eclipse Chaser **describes my experience exactly. I had my first one about 1979 or 1980, when I was in my twenties.

Thank God! I thought I was the only one this ever happened to. Even my doctor had never heard of it. Nice to know I’m not alone, and that it has a name. Mine are infrequent (once or twice a year, or less), and of the sparkly, shimmering variety with no headache involved.

I just realized I posted to the wrong wiki article. This is the one I meant to post to. My apologies.