Blindspots and sparkling lines of colour

Not, in this case, describing a creative moment of brilliance or overcoming a plot hole. It’s what happened to my vision earlier this evening. I literally saw a blurred (and sparkly) blindspot just right of centre, and a long arc of bright, sparkling and pulsating colours from the upper middle round the right side of my visual field and across the bottom.

This was, as you may appreciate, a somewhat alarming development and warranted some investigation and experiment to see if I could determine the cause, or if I would need to make an emergency appointment at the GP. Experiment included covering up one eye, then the other; removing my glasses; closing my eyes (together, and one at a time); trying different focal ranges (i.e. close-up reading versus middle-distant objects). None of this provided any difference.

Every disturbance seemed to be to the right side of my visual field, so to test whether this perception was accurate, I put my flat hand up to my nose to create a vertical barrier between left and right. I then focussed on observing the visual disturbances.

They had disappeared.

I experimented with taking my hand away again, but they did not return. This, sadly, meant further experimentation was impossible.

If experiment was now beyond my means, then the next step had to be “Ask The Internet”. BootsWebMD (the UK equivalent of “WebMD”) has a symptom checker. Not always the best move, given that I have a tendency to worry about things (it’s just a question of what). However, I entered “eye” as the problem area, and symptoms as “sparkling colours” and “wavy lines”. A very definite and distinct answer came back:

Ocular Migraine

Okay, so Duckduckgo is my friend. A quick search found me a site giving a more detailed description and advice about ocular migraines. It described almost exactly what I had seen and explained that these events are usually (such a pleasant-sounding word, and yet leaves hanging the question, “What about, ‘Unusually?'”) harmless. They self-correct within 20-30 minutes and basically, it sounds like nobody really understands why they happen, but they have some intriguing ideas about mechanisms. Sometimes they accompany migraine headaches.

It was all rather fascinating and beautiful (especially once I could appreciate the memory with the confidence that I almost certainly wasn’t about to go blind or have a stroke or something disastrous like that). Of course, now I worry that I’m going to start developing the headaches too, but maybe I won’t.

I don’t know that this is my first, but it’s certainly the first that I have noticed so strongly. It resembled in some ways symptoms I get when I feel very tired, but was much more vivid. I wonder if it has anything to do with having a cold, also.

Anyway, I still have that, which means proper posting is still on hiatus for a few days. But this event was sufficiently weird and medical that I wanted to share it with the world.


About ValeryNorth

I overthink everything.
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