First ever ocular migraine

My goodness I had the scare of my life this afternoon with what I’m sure was my first ocular migraine. I get the migraine headaches in addition to the 24/7 dizzies, but had never experienced this before.

I was home alone with my two sons and trying to read when I noticed that I couldn’t read because there was a blind spot blocking the words right in front of me. Then it got worse and in the side of my left eye I saw wavering of my vision or maybe it was what people describe as the zig zag effect?

At first I panicked thinking stroke, of course, because my anxiety-driven mind always goes to worst case scenario. But as it progressed I figured it was an ocular migraine. Lasted 30 minutes and then disappeared.

Man those are freaky!!

Hi Anne,

I get these too - in fact for many years these were the only type of migraines I got. If it occurs in one eye only (for me always the right) I believe they’re known as ‘retinal migraine’ - although really, who cares? Migraine is migraine. The wavering light effect is called scintillating scotoma or fortification spectra.

See here (or don’t, if you don’t want to look at them again!):

I hate the scintillating scotoma - always makes me freaked out, it’s so impossible to ignore and it also signals several hours of intense hungover feeling aftewards. I suspect part of the reason I hate flickering lights (fluoro, candles, harsh sun, dappled light, strobe lights etc) is because they remind me of the scintillating scotoma.

Sorry you are now part of the scintillating scotoma club :frowning:


Your experience was mine EXACTLY! when I got my first ocular migraine, at age 42 (without even knowing I was a migraineur until that day).

Blind spot in my right eye–grew into a backwards block-letter “C” full of sparkling “facets” of flashing light which moved upward and outward over about half an hour.

I called the doctor’s office in a panic, thinking I was having a stroke. (You know how they say get help immediately if you have trouble speaking, seeing, etc. because it might be a stroke.) The nurse asked me a few questions and said 'I don’t think you’re having a stroke" but got me in to see the doctor that day anyway.

Doctor said ocular migraine and I’m like “Huh? I don’t get migraines!” But she was right, of course.

(What bugged me was that when she went out to get me a referral to an ophthalmologist, just in case, she didn’t close the door all the way and I heard her saying to someone down the hall “she thought she was having a thrombosis,” and they both laughed heartily. Made me feel like an idiot because I was only doing what the medical establishment tells you to do if you “have trouble seeing”–get help urgently.)

I only had two more ocular migraines: one a month later, a third several months later (the third one was in color). That was 12 years ago and I’ve had none since. It was right when perimenopause was hitting me full force–hormone changes.


These things are really scary, aren’t they? I thought I had had a stroke too - only when I had mine, I didn’t go blind but color-blind. THAT was bizarre! Totally hormone-related (fertility drugs), and I went to my ophthalmologist and had a total visual field test and everything checked out OK (of course, my color vision had returned by then).

I haven’t heard about too many people who’ve had color-blindness with migraine, but have read that the neurologist Oliver Sacks has had it.

These ones are scary as they usually give me a 3 day stinker migraine afterwoulds.

I woke up with this yesterday (first one for a year), flashing lights and now on day two of stinker migraine.

Having felt rotton for weeks I stupidly took a course of antibiotics thinking the fluey feeling was a virus or something, I had to stop the course half way through through dizziness and migraine, then the day after woke with the flashing zig zag lights plus I couldnt open one eye (very frightening), and on the loo all day.

I am due to fly out on holiday in 3 days time and seriously dont know how I am going to make it. Often the end of one of these migraines ends in an attack of severe vertigo.

Victoria, its always in my right eye too! Strange that the raging tinnitus I have had for 3 months is the right side as well.

The ways things are going I will be carried on the plane on a stretcher :frowning:


HI Nancy and Ann,
I had to almost chuckle while reading your posts because it’s EXACTLY what happened to me. About 6 months after this dizzy stuff started, and I was having tons of anxiety and questioning just what the hell was going on with me, I stood up and had that big black void in my vision along with a light show and zig zags of colors and lightning bolts…it is freaky and yes, I thought I was having a stroke so called my neuro in a panick who calmly told me it was 99% an ocular migraine and it went with the diagnosis he told me I had (which I thought was ridiculous) and I guess it was then that I realized I do have the mechanism for migraine. I had another one a month later, and they both just lasted about 20 minutes and went away. That was 2 years ago and none since. Freaky stuff!!


Nancy that is awful that your doctor did that! If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s terrifying when your vision suddenly goes in the crapper. I was totally anxiety-striken for a few minutes being alone with my kids and not sure what was going on. I’m sure there are lots of people that think stroke when these first happen.

At least I now what they are like now, and hopefully won’t get too worked up if/when it happens again!

Christine, I wish you luck on your flight! Do you have a benzo to take for the vertigo? I was so worried about a flight at the end of March and it went surprisingly well, and I felt fabulous once we were there and able to relax on vacation. Hope it is a breeze for you too!

Thanks Anne,

I am just hoping that I am getting all the crap out of the way now and then will be OK on holiday, usually its the other way round, I develop bad migraine or vertigo when I am there! Its now the end of the second day and its still in full swing.
Must try and be optimistic :?


These were the only kind of migraines I’d ever had until I started getting the vertiginous variety about a year ago. I got one when I was about 23 and was on a jog – I was totally freaked out. I went to an eye doctor, and he told me what it was, luckily. I got another at about age 25, then nothing for a few years until I got three within a six-month window when I was 37, just before the vertiginous migraines began. They are totally unnerving but luckily short-lived. My father used to get them until he was in his mid-40s, and then they stopped.