Comments on Migraine Visions


22 Feb 2005

This has been a frustrating problem over the years. I used to get quite
violently ill when this first occurred in my early twenties; now I can get
past the nausea and get straight to the thudding headache by concentrating
hard enough.

Still can't think clearly through the episodes though and motor skills are
quite noticeably impaired. I've learned how to deal with the loss of vision
(usually about 80% covered in the well-documented flashy-zigzag lights).
Fortunately there is enough lead time to get off the road or out of a
business meeting when it starts.

It's been about 20 years of study and experimentation and still no closer to
finding the triggers. Chocolate, caffeine, lack of water, not an issue. I
used to think it was change of temperature (like leaving 72 degree F work to
88+ degree outside, or going out to the cold in winter) or lack of caffeine
or low sugar levels but my personal history shows that none of these is
common with these episodes.

Well it's not life-threatening or a full-blown disability so if this is the
worst medical condition I have to deal with in life then I'm glad for it.
My heart goes out to those with severe medical disorders, since I've been
touched by only a minor one and can't imagine the strength it must take to
deal with these.

- John -

I regularly have these visual disturbances. They have made me profoundly aware of how constructed our perception of the world is.

My migraine experience starts with hunger. I suddenly feel hungry. Shortly after that my vision becomes 'distant'. It is somewhat like seeing the world projected on a screen. The actual experience is not that obviously artificial, but that is the closest that I can come to conveying the feeling.

The next stage involves blind spots. This is where my awareness of my brain's visual processing occurs. The brain backfills these blind spots with a neutral colour, so that they are not obvious. I guess this is how the brain deals with the physical blind spots that result from our eye's construction. My most dramatic experience of this occured while sitting in class. The writing on the blackboard looked as though it had been wiped clean in patches.

After this stage the actual aura occurs. A bright sparkling patch appears in the center of my vision. Over the next 45 minutes it unfolds into a crescent that progresses out toward the edge of my vision, either the left or right. It remains a bright line with jagged edges that subtends a fairly constant angle, until toward the end it loses defenition and fills my peripheral vision. I guess that this has something to do with the number of neurons dedicated to the peripheral areas.

Once that stage has passed I can unsually see clearly again. Sometimes the process starts again, and occasionally (not recently, thankfully) I have a severe headache that lasts a few hours. I have been taking 600mg magnesium a day, and I think that this might have helped to remove the headaches. Research indicates that there is a link between migraines and low ionised magnesium levels in the blood.

My neurologist has explained that migraine is caused by a sweeping chemical disturbance that moves through the brain. I believe that this is why my aura progresses so neatly from the center of my vision outward.
Other migraine related experiences that I have had include loss of feeling in fingers, toes or lips and transient aphasia. The transient aphasia has only occured twice. Both times I was able to think clearly, and to understand people, but not to produce complex sentances. I was reduced to speaking in short words. Both instances were brief, but very illuminating. My neurologist assures me that this is caused by the disturbance progressing into the speech centers, and is thus not permanent.

- Adriaan Wessels

I experience EXACTLY how you describe. I am just coming out of mine now as I read this. 10 minutes ago I could not read the computer screen without moving my eyes around to catch things in slightly peripheral vision.

My first was in my teens, and have had the "blind spot" every so often - maybe several times a year, or not for a few years. It seems to be slightly more common when I am fit (as in state level cyclist). I have thought it was linked to dehydration because drinking lots of water seems to lessen post-blind spot migraine. Sure would like to know the cause, or how to avoid it.

Interestingly, when I was doing gymnastics I never got it - maybe its something to do with my brain getting used to being upside down and dealing with the blood pressure. I have found that I am very sensitive to stooping over (can see 'stars' if I do handstand), and that the blindspot doesn't seem to like a blood pressure increase (like stooping over). I wonder if upside-down conditioning can improve my brain and lessen this opthalmic migraine thing...

What causes migraines anyway?


I have a blind spot that starts as a small white spot, which turns into a ) shape- zigzagy white light around it, it gets larger and larger and moves to the right and remains on the peripheral vision, then disappears. Whole process lasts 20 minutes. Usually happens in morning. Happens when I am driving which scares me. These episodes are not followed by a bad headache, a light headachesometimes, sometimes no headache at all- all started days after being rearended by a car- I had head turned to the right.
Does anyone have this in conjuction with a sleep disorder?


Yeah, this is exactly what I experience. I just got over one half an hour ago. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned what I find to be the most sure-fire cure: vomiting. A physician told me that vomiting is always accompanied by dilation of the blood vessels in the brain. Since migraine pain comes from the constricting blood vessels in the brain, vomiting always seemed to help. When my headache is very bad, the nausea comes automatically after a couple of hours. After I throw up, the headache goes away immediately. Lately, I've even tried inducing it, with mixed results. It ALWAYS results in at least a temporary relief from the pain.

That sounds like a clever plan, but I get the impression that it could be risky. I know that bulimics (who throw up to lose weight) get addicted to it and have trouble stopping. - RadRob

My husband gets a spot in his right eye, and he can't see around it. Also, he gets a severe headache, and it can last for 30min., but the head pain can last longer. Any idea what causes it?


I had my first Aura vision a month ago. Scared me witless. Started with the blind spot and withing 15 minutes came and went with a zig zag of colorful pixilated suares that swirled through the snake like zig zag. Trippy to say the least. Rushed to the ER to be told it was a classic Migraine Without Headache.

When i get a migraine it commonly starts with a real tired feeling and a sort crackling sensation in the glands below my ears. My neck starts to ache and then the aura begins. I usually experience aura as sparkly lights, but as it continues I get big sweeping patches of colour. The aura will last for the whole migraine which can be anywhere from 5 hrs to 3 days. I haven't found any drugs that will help. Acupuncture has been really good for the pain, with no rebound headaches from the drugs, but is expensive and not practical as you can't just drop everything and go get some acupuncture when you feel like it.
I also get what my neurologist calls "icepick headaches" which are just like these intense stabbing pains in one part of the head. They started about a year ago, and my migraines started four years ago. They don't always come with a migraine. They are very painful and scary. I can't find anything out about them. Has anyone had this happen?
Currently had some funny 'falling asleep' episodes and I'm being tested for epilepsy and narcolepsy. Does anyone know if the two are related?

Just stumbled across this page...thought I was all alone on this little visual problem.
Last's 20 or 30 minutes and starts as an area of reduced vision and then into a tear that seems to open up into a bright
zig zaging light that looks like a bolt of lightning. It always is shaped like a crescent or sometimes an "L" and then grows larger and larger until it ends up in my peripheral area of my vision. It then disappears. No headache or other problems seem to come along with it.
I'm thinking that it might have something to do with my consumption of red wine. Sounds strange but it always seems to happen about 12 hours or so after a have a drink or two.
Hope this helps.....

Had visual disturbances about two and a half hours ago. The blind spot quite quickly turned into a bright jagged lightning bolt and a feeling of pressure built up around left temple. Mentally, everything felt very surreal as if logic suddenly took a holiday.This used to scare me witless, but now I know what to expect. Sometimes,like today, if I lie down I will just sleep for a few hours and then bypass the BIG headache. I quite often miss the full blown migraine headache now-thank God. When I had these attacks as a teenager and I told my doctor that I don't always get the headache but have strange 'special effect' (numb fingers, face; slurred speech; light and sound oversensitivity; inability to string a proper sentence together or make sense of words on a page; the usual blind spot and visual disturbance), he said that it can't be migraine then. This led me to having a brain scan - result, no abnormalities. No one has ever been very helpful or understanding.Lack of sleep, dehydration, alcohol and not eating properly seem to play a part in causing these migraines- sometimes. Eating 3-4 leaves of feverfew in a sandwich on the onset can be very effective in stopping it if you do it in good time. It tastes disgusting but marmite can help mask the flavour. I also get vey hungry after an attack.

After many years (decades?) without experiencing the "classic" migraine aura/hallucinations ("fortification illusion"), this morning I had one! --- small blind spot half a degree or so to the lower-right of the center of the visual field ... which developed a glowing zig-zag edge and slowly grew larger over 20 minutes or so, then faded out. (That's where I am right now, as I type this. Fascinating brain phenomenon!)

I took 2 acetaminophen (extra-strength generic Tylenol) and drank a cup of caffeine coffee as soon as I noticed the vision developing, in hopes that that will preempt the actual migraine headache --- we shall see if it works or not!

-- MarkZimmermann 2008-05-10 15:03 UTC

P.S. thankfully, as of the next morning at least, no headache ... maybe I wasn't going to get one, or maybe the caffeine+acetaminophen+hydration worked ... ^z

I have had several of these incidents occur.... I think it is possibly related to excess salt consumption....
anyone else have thoughts on this?

-- Anonymous 2009-08-10 03:00 UTC

I used to experience severe migraines (blind spot, zigzag and terrible terrible headache, accompanied with nausea) however, the migraines have lessened but I still experience the colourfull patches often. A remainder of the migraines maybe?

-- Lena 2009-10-12 18:53 UTC

I had another episode of the visual disturbances while running—glowing patches of light that interfered with navigation, especially in dark areas like under bridges—on Saturday during the final few miles of the Andiamo 44.5 mile run ...

-- zz 2009-10-12 19:04 UTC