You are driving to work one day and suddenly you notice something funny out of the corner of your eye– flashing lights, in a zigzag pattern, blocking out part of your vision. Feeling uncomfortable, you pull over but the lights don’t go away. They persist for about 20 minutes and actually get larger, blocking out part of your vision.
You may have just experienced a visual aura, part of a common condition known as “ocular migraine”. These can start at any age and may or may not be followed by a headache. While ocular migraines are not well understood, they seem to be caused by activity in the blood vessels of the brain (the part that processes vision). Certain “triggers” exist that may include stress, certain foods, or low blood sugar. In Southern Alberta one of the more frequently seen triggers is barometric pressure changes. The arrival of a Chinook usually brings many ocular migraine sufferers into our office (especially with the weather lately)!
While some ocular migraine sufferers require medication, many have only a mild headache or even none at all. The vision effects can be alarming and may actually make it dangerous to drive or operate other heavy machinery. If the headaches are very painful consult your family doctor for treatment options which may include medication.
Light flashes in your vision may be the result of one of several different conditions. Remember to come in and see us whenever you notice changes to your eyes or your vision, so your condition can be properly diagnosed.