flashing lights, blurred vision?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Shari, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I am seeing a streak of flashing/blurring in my peripheral vision which is obscuring everything to my left that I am not directly looking at. What the heck is that?

    Its annoying, whatever it is.
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    precursors to a migraine????
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Do you have migraines? If not, how long ago was your blood pressure checked? High blood pressure can cause that. I know, as I get it all of the time. Annoying as heck.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I third the migraine. That happened to me, only in my front vision and I started not being able to see. It lasted about a half an hour. The doctor took a C-T scan-nothing. Said it was a "silent migraine"--the aura without the pain. I wear sunglasses when they happen now. They didn't start until I went through the change.
  5. Shari,

    A couple of thoughts.... A detached retina can present in this way. If it this visual persists, get to an opthalmologist! I used to work with folks with visual impairments, and detached retinas are very common, and very treatable.

    It also can be a silent migraine. I've had those for years, and never really knew what to call them. I thought everyone sometimes saw those flashing lights until my Mom told me she had the experience and went to the doctor. Her doctor decided it was "silent migraine".
  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I just was seen for something similar and the doctor diagnosed occular migraine even though I don't always have headaches.
    They did caution that if the light moves out of the periphery or persists to seek medical attention immediately because it can indicate detached retina which must be treated immediately.
  7. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    The detached retina would scare me enough to go to the opthamologist.......you don't want to mess around with losing vision........
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    driving drunk and looking out of the corner of your eye at the cop lights?

    I wouldn't mess with this - get to an opthamologist.

  9. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Well, the flashing part is gone now, its just a little fuzzy there, and my left eye feels funny and watering, like you had something in it hours ago. I have a hint of a headache, but I've never had migraines. BiPolar (BP) is usually low, tho during the root canal last week it was very high,and I've noticed difficult child's make it go up. This morning was a stressful morning, difficult child started growling at me and ordering me around at 6:15am and I got away from him (to work - woohoo) at 8:15.
    What the heck is a silent migraine?
  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    The headaches I had during this period were mild, easily treated with a motrin or 20 minutes of rest. Only once did I have a full blown out migraine and that was without the lights.

    My neurologist said that it's a common misconception that migraine always result in headaches. He himself has similar symptoms that I do.
  11. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    I always get auras before I get the pounding pain of a migraine. Luckily for me, it only happens a couple times per year. I usually see all kinds of flashing lights in my field of vision, or lose partial vision in one eye. It makes it impossible for me to read or drive.

    It used to happen to me before my periods. If I immediately popped three to four ibuprofen when it happened, most of the time I could stop the migraine before the pounding headache and vomiting began. Otherwise, I would be in agony for hours... And, afterwards, I would feel wrung out, weak and totally exhausted.

    If you have migraines, I hope you have the silent kind that others mentioned without the pain. I never knew about silent migraines until I read about them here.

    Anyway, I agree with the others that you should see a doctor. You should definitely rule out a detached retina.

    I hope you feel better soon!!! WFEN
  12. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This happened to my mom after getting a new pair of glasses. They had made her glasses incorrectly.
  13. WiscKaren

    WiscKaren New Member

    I would say migraine, but I'm not a doctor (only play one on the internet...LOL).

    There are times when I get a headache, I see spots, lights, zig-zags, swirly lines....and then I know this one is going to be a doozie one!

    Hope it goes away for you!
  14. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    It's a real good reason to go to a doctor.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Get it checked out, for sure.

    I've had something similar to this, for thirty years now. I first noticed it only when my eyes turned to the side a long way, and I noticed it more when the light was dim. It looked like a jagged streak of lightning, and there was also a flash of pain with it. A few times back then things in my eyes were suddenly a lot more sensitive, I didn't have to turn my eyes very far to get this effect and the pain was much worse. Eye pain, not headache pain, although I did get a stab of headache at times too, only when I saw the flash. I had photophobia too, but as I said - only when the problem was suddenly a lot worse.

    I got it checked out, they clearly were thinking "detached retina" but it wasn't. I remembered something my mother had told me about her sister (who died of appendicitis in her early 20s, WWII). Apparently my aunt had been told that the muscles behind her eyes were hardening and she would eventually go blind. Nobody has ever been able to work out what she REALLY was told; that didn't seem to make sense.
    Anyway, the problem has continued and slowly become more noticeable (I can't say 'worse' because it's not a handicap). And now - I don't see a lightning flash, I see a full circle. With either eye (sometimes both) and I don't have to turn my eyes very far at all.

    I get my eyes checked regularly, but all the really intense checking I had done over the years, I've never been given an official answer from a specialist. Yes, I've had 'migraine' suggested, but this isn't associated with the really nasty headaches I sometimes get. This is different.

    What we've worked out this probably is - the muscles of the eye, the ones on the outside responsible for moving the eyeball this way or that. They pull on the eyeball which pulls on the retina. Being short-sighted, my eyeball is longer than it should be. Over the years my eyes have become worse (with myopia) and hence, my eyeball has lengthened. This means that as my eyeball turns, the forces on it are uneven and the muscles pull on the vitreous humor, which then pulls on the lens muscles inside the eye and especially on the attachment points for the lens (hence the full circle - the forces inside the eye are now much more evenly spread over the entire circle of the lens attachment).
    It's not serious, but if the pull gets really bad, the retina can detach. It can also pull on small blood vessels, causing them to leak. This can cause vision problems. At the very least, it can cause an increase in 'floaters'.
    With all those possibilities, it therefore does need not only to be checked out but also monitored regularly.

    A big giveaway to this being the likely explanation - the lightning flash or the circle - it's only white. No colour. Our eyes have four different types of light detectors in them, located in the retina. The closer together the detector cells, the more fine detail we can see. Birds' retinas are much more crowded than ours, that's why an eagle can see its prey from an incredibly high distance. The main detectors, the rods, only detect light/dark but they are VERY sensitive. Almost the entire inner surface of the eyeball has rods, although where they are well away from our central vision, they are more sparse. As we get closer to our central vision, we get the cells which detect colour - the cones. There are three different kinds, each kind will detect a different colour. One kind detects red, another kind detects green, and a third detects something in the blue range. And on TV tonight I saw a program which said bulls have two kinds of colour detectors (as well as the rods). Cones also cut out their detection at a higher light level. That's why as it gets dark, we lose colour in the environment.
    In the very centre of the retina, corresponding to the point where we see most detail, is a small pit. In this pit are only cones, no rods. And what's more, the nuclei of those cones have all been pushed to one side, so our retinas can get maximum detection capability without parts of the cells getting in the way. That's why the pit is there.
    It's called the fovea, or sometimes the macula densa. So when you hear of someone having macular degeneration, what is happening is they're losing their vision beginning with this central bit going first. Not nice. A friend of mine has this, she can only see via her peripheral vision. The maddening thing is, your instincts make you turn your eye to look at what you want to see, but in her case that swings the area of non-vision there and she loses the image.

    The other weird thing about eyes and our vision - the Blind Spot. It's the gap in our retina where allowance has had to be made for the optic nerve, which is like the main cable connecting the retina to the brain. It has to go SOMEWHERE, and where the cable is, there are no detector cells. But the brain is tricky - we don't see the blind spot as a gap in our vision, our brain 'bleeps over it' and fudges in what it THINKS should be there.
    The brain does the same trick when you begin losing vision for any of a number of reasons. As a result you might think your vision is perfectly OK, but it's not. You could be gradually going blind but your brain is hiding the fact, until you begin tripping over things you could have sworn were not there...

    So my recommendation - get this checked out, and get an optometrist or ophthalmologist to keep monitoring it. It COULD be migraine prodrome, but if you are more short-sighted than most, chances are it could be the problem I describe. For reference - my glasses prescription is -5 to -5.5 diopters. If yours is anything more than -4, this could be a possibility for you.

    For now - I see perfectly OK, as long as I have my glasses on!