Update: Comments are closed on this post; the discussion continues on this newer one.
Tonight (=last night) I had another ocular migraine, the first one I’ve had in three years. I was driving; we were on our way to the store, stopped off at the money machine and there it came. It was pretty mild in comparison to others I’ve had… only lasted about 15 minutes and was only in black and white zig-zags, no colors that I could detect. By the time I noticed it, the C-shape "porthole" was wide enough that I didn’t have to stop driving, and by the time we got to the store it had expanded all the way out to my eyelids so I couldn’t see it anymore. It was only in my left eye like always. (That’s my "good eye"… the other eye is totally wacked-out and lumpy with astigmatism.)
I can’t imagine what brought this on now of all times; I’m not nearly as stressed out right now as I have been in the past month or so. I feel as healthy as can be, overlooking the lardass. ;-) And jeez, I’ve had all sorts of stress over the past three years and never got a single SS attack. Maybe my diet’s a little off right now… I’ve had virtually nothing but Mexican food for the past week, maybe I oughta break down and eat a banana or something. Or maybe I was on the computer too long today… the aftereffect was just a teensy headache which seemed more like eyestrain than anything else. I can still feel that, hours later.
Hey, this seems about as good a time as any to close down comments on that whopper of a post from three years ago (Scintillating scotoma), and start up a new one here… that old page is getting waaaay too huge to download in one gulp! There’s also one more post with a couple of comments (Seeing spots again) — I’ll point both of those over here so people will know, and hopefully everyone will resume the conversation here. (I always wondered how many comments you could possibly put on a single Movable Type blog post — I guess the answer is: "more than you’d ever want to download at one time!" ;-)
If you’re new here and/or have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s my best attempt at a short explanation: A scintillating scotoma is a type of migraine, a (usually) painless headache that happens to affect your vision in strange ways. The problem is not in your eyes, it’s all in the brain, in the visual cortex or whatchamacallit. When the attack happens, you’ll get a dark or blurry spot in your vision. The spot is usually only in one eye but may be dimly visible in the other as well. Over the course of the next 15-45 minutes the spot will expand into a larger shape, like a circle or an arc, or a pointed caret shape. The shape might be just blurry, or it might shimmer in a zig-zaggy pattern, with a hole in the middle where the vision is normal. The zig-zags might be flashing in black and white, or they might appear in very brilliant pulsating colors. Eventually the arc-of-zigzags will enlarge until it disappears outside your vision. You might feel a little funny afterward, maybe a slight headache or feeling of spaciness. At least that’s how it happens for me. And more than a hundred other people have commented with very similar descriptions… my weblog is such a teensy corner of the internet that I can only assume there must be millions of people out there having ocular migraines, whether they know it or not.
As you can imagine, these auras can be really unnerving if you don’t know what’s happening! It’s like a hallucination that won’t go away when you close your eyes. For me, it took a long time to put a name to SS or even realize that it isn’t a normal thing everyone experiences from time to time. I’m sure I’ve had hundreds of them, and guess I was young enough when they started that I pretty much grew up thinking it was a perfectly ordinary thing. I always assumed it was happening because I’d glanced at a bare lightbulb, or because I was oversensitive to lights in general. I was prone to getting migraine headaches in my twenties, but back then I never put two and two together, to associate the visual auras with the headaches. I don’t get the headaches anymore, thank goodness.
Anyway, if you want to read further, visit the above links and check out all the comments. Talk to your doctor if you’re still concerned about your health after reading what everyone else has said, especially if you’re having symptoms that don’t match up with the ones we’re describing. But if you’re pretty sure it’s "only" SS, please do tell us your own story and/or give us more info or URLs that might be helpful. I’m sure we’d all love to know more about what’s causing this phenomenon, and what if anything we can do to prevent it. Unfortunately nobody seems to have a sure-fire answer to that just yet… but hey, at least we know we’re not just seeing things! :-)