Sight problem post ablation : Well, more... - AF Association

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Sight problem post ablation

Jajarunner profile image

Well, more excitement. Yesterday I was eating lunch when I became aware I was losing my left eye vision into a sort of rainbow pattern, cut glass effect blob. This gradually got bigger as did my panic. I checked with Dr Google and there were any manner of things it could be, some serious such as a stroke, which obviously is a risk 10 days post ablation. It didn't appear to be a stroke or a detached retina nor anything like any migraine I've ever had before, so I called 111. By this time the kaleidoscope pattern had shifted. They called back and told me to go to A&E within the hour, but by now it had resolved but they insisted I went. Gulp! Luckily I had a friend working nearby who took me to my local hospital.

Now, regulars may recall, I have a dim view of my local hospital's cardiology dept (culminating in my feedback to them regarding two long stays there with afib to being upgraded,by them, to an official complaint and me receiving a letter contained no less than 15 separate apologies!) Anyway, let the record show, that on this occasion the hospital was magnificent.

Within three hours I had been checked over by nurse and doctor, had ECG and blood tests, a ultrasound of my carotid artery and a thorough eye exam, and an eye scan, by the consultant opthalmist! I was then told it almost certainly wasn't a stroke and definitely not my eyes so I was discharged and asked to return today to rule out a T.I.A. I got checked over by the stroke specialist and given an MRI scan! Finally, they settled on a visual migraine which as we know, is common after ablation.

BUT the really exciting thing is that I have a genetic disorder which causes blood vessels malformations within the body. In this country they screen for pulmonary problems and test lungs, but do not routinely scan for liver malformations (which i have) nor brain ones, which can pop and kill you! But now I know that my brain is free of the blighters!! So what started out as a terrifying experience yesterday with the eyes ended up as a huge positive today re the brain. Well done local hospital!

On the subject of the migraine, there is one called a kaleidoscope so I guess I had that, it's not mentioned in any afib info that I could see, I wonder if anyone else has had it?

53 Replies

All very interesting! I can imagine the panic but pleased you are OK now !

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to Jalia

Thank you xx

BobD profile image

Migraine aura is mentioned and explained in our fact sheet on recovery so maybe you didn't read this?

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to BobD

Yes, I did read it, but as I said in my post there was no mention of the kaleidoscope type of symptoms when j checked it. Hence why I checked with 111

BobD profile image
BobDVolunteer in reply to Jajarunner

Aura can come in many forms.

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to BobD

Certainly can as I discovered yesterday 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Singwell profile image
Singwell in reply to Jajarunner

I'd have checked too - can't be too careful. Do you have an arrythmia nurse? Might be worth making contact if so - mine is excellent if I'm in a panic.

I've had optical migraines for years, but I just get a zig zag pattern, no exotic rainbows - they don't last long and I never get a headache. Nobody seems to be concerned about them.They were happening years before I was diagnosed with PAF.

I have had a few in my lifetime and they are benign. Scary the first time but no problem at all, and no pain either. Dissipates within 20 min. I think pretty common too. 😉

Yes, sounds just like migraine. It gets mentioned quite a bit on this forum.

How frightening for you! So glad that you had a thorough checkup!!

I've been a long time migraine sufferer but never had visual stuff before hence my caution. Better safe than sorry. Xx

Of course! You were quite right too! I would have called 999 (especially as I only have sign in one eye 😳)I get aura migraines sometimes and they’re not nice... I have never had a coloured one though.

Glad you’re ok now!

Hi Jajarunner, I'm glad all is good. I suffer from the Migraine related coloured orbs in my eyesight, while in recovery straight after my ablation and the periodically for a few weeks afterwards. The nurses said that it was to do with a nerve within the heart that affects the brain, or something to that effect. Glad your well. I'm now 6 months post ablation, medication free apart from a once a day blood pressure tablet. Cheers 🍻

I had the kaleidoscope patterns post ablation, as Bob says its quite common.

Me too, was scary but went after 15 mins

I have that in my left eye regularly, it is eye migraine. I had lens implants a few years ago and put it down to that because they made a mess of my eyes.

Not as dramatic by any means but I had the migraine aura once since the procedure - seeing stars and vision broken up in left eye - and what you've described has been known to happen with my husband during his migraines. So glad you're ok now and pleased you got a thorough and satisfactory check up.

Did it appear as bright jagged images like through broken glass, starting at the periphery and moving to the centre of the eye? Scintillating Scotoma:

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to saulger

Exactly but started right in middle then moved to outside!

saulger profile image
saulger in reply to Jajarunner

I get it after I eat too many (more than usually) peanuts in the shell, and other nuts. Be well and don't worry, if that's all it is.

Yes, it is a very scary experience and I used to get them a lot, I was told they were called ocular migraines and harmless. Since I came off beta blockers and have been on a calcium channel blocker for several years, I have not had any. But good came out of the experience for you, great.

This is almost an identical experience to my first Ablation.

48hr post ablation I had an Ocular Migraine and ended up in A&E.

I had, had a few previously and I also get numbness around my mouth.

But the fact sheet I received from my EP listed stroke and TIA as potential side effects.

So to use a technical term I was bricking it and my anxiety levels were sky high.

Anyway like yourself scans ruled out anything serious and they disappeared after a week or two.

I wasn’t aware of this site at the time and on retrospectively reading the fact sheet it seems like a uncommon but well reported side effect.

Things will settle down soon and hopefully become a distant memory.

Although my lovely children often remind me of that time “Dad nearly had a stroke” and I have to relive the experience and correct their clinical inaccuracies.

Hi glad you are feeling better and have had such good news about your brain! I've regularly had the migraine aura which is very scary the first time.

Migraine aura are a lot more common after an ablation than the medical community seem to think. I would say the majority of people get them after an ablation. I'm not sure why your local hospital took so long to diagnose it, I and I guess most of those who have had an ablation, diagnosed it before finishing your first sentence! I think your original opinion of your cardiac department is not far off the mark, I'm afraid.

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to MarkS

To be fair, the A&E team did say it was probably migraine, but wanted to check. Which was great coz I got my brain scanned!So win win

I had this too, transient and I had been warned by the fact sheet... scary at time

How scary! A glad that you are okay and you had a better experience at the hospital.

I have had a migraine aura in both eyes for many years. I seem to have a phase of it and then it goes away for several months. I have never found what triggers it but it leaves me with a fuzzy type of headache. I have had different checks over the years but only told that it could be hereditary as my father had migraines but no aura. Strangely enough, since ablation 7 months ago I have not have a single episode. Don't worry about it, however scary it will not do you any harm.

Yikes! Not had any of that mularky......... yet. Glad you're ok now and that the hospital stepped up to the plate. They were probably on their best behaviour when they saw your name 😁.

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to Ducky2003

Definitely!!! Oh no, it's the moany old bag!

I've had migraine auras ever since my first episode of AF 5 years ago. I have persistent AF so can only revert to sinus rhythm after cardioversion. But I have migraine auras regularly, sometimes for several days in a row, but almost always when I wake up in the morning. Walking through a kaleidoscope bedroom with zigzagging doorframes on the way to the bathroom is an interesting experience but harmless and pain-free (so long as I miss the doorframes that is)

It's called scintillating scotoma and is caused by the piercing of the septum during the ablation. I had my ablation in Jan 2020 and had this most days for the 2 or 3 weeks following the ablation. It the stopped. I also had, at times, last summer a similar effect which seemed to be triggered by bright reflections of sunlight, like you get off a car. This lasted about 20 minutes. Haven't had it this year (yet?) so maybe it's stopped now. I wasn't worried about all the auras because it's explained on the fact sheet.

I have had exactly this same thing for several years now, possibly since my first ablation. Always after being in bright sunshine for a prolonged period but never any pain with it and my opticians have never mentioned anything about it. I usually close my eyes and try to nap, 20 mins usually does the trick. Both my mother and my daughter suffer/ed with nasty painful migraines so I suppose it is in the genes.

Thank you for this. Since my ablation 4 years ago I have had similar episodes which I have mentioned to my heart failure nurse but nothing was ever diagnosed. I suddenly lose vision in my left eye only, but it returns within a couple of minutes. All I get left with is a muzzy headed feeling - not a full blown headache!

It shows that we shouldn't generalise about the competence of hospital departments. I have a persistent cough from Amiodarone, and the thoracic department at my local hospital were useless in treating. Fortunately this was the exception, as I have had no problems with their other departments.

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to Bolander

Definitely. I'd always found them very good previous to my two long cardiac stays.

It must have been so frightening! -- and I empathize in a big way. I very infrequently (about once a year or less) get an ocular migraine. It starts as a small blind spot in my vision; when I look in various directions, it follows the path, but only in that small spot. When I close my eyes, it looks like a dramatic African design pattern moving around -- a kaleidoscope effect. It will finally move to usually the left side of my closed-eyes vision, then dissipate off the "screen." There is no pain involved. I had the experience a few days before I started having Covid symptoms in December 2020, and Covid was later confirmed. I later read it's a precursor symptom to Covid. I spent a day in the hospital here in the States when that happened, having an MRI and cat scan of my brain, showing nothing was amiss. Also, 4 days after my radio-frequency ablation on April 7th, I had an ocular migraine, which as you read too, is common. I hope you're trouble-free now and can rest easy!

That was it exactly! Luckily it didn't last long so I was quite chilled once it had gone. I only went to hospital coz the doctor told me to!

I'm so glad you're feeling better!

So visual migraine seems to be a different name for a condition that 1 out of 3 migraine sufferers get. I say sufferers because the migrainous "aura" (as it is called by Neurologist) is often accompanied by vertigo (though not always).

I get migrainous aura and take medicine daily to stave off vertigo attacks. It sound though that you are getting the Aura only (which is good for you!)

I didn't have migraines but I definitely had a couple of episodes of the cut glass effect.

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to marcyh

The opthalmologist said it's disruption to blood supply to optical nerve. I never even heard of it before.

marcyh profile image
marcyh in reply to Jajarunner

I looked it up online, that's how I connected it with my ablation.. It happened only in the first day or two but it's really weird..

I was pretty sure it was a migraine but doctor was adamant I should be checked. And the brain scan was a bonus to reveal no other problems do win win for me x

I haven't had an ablation nor was I dx with aFIB in January 2020 when I lost eyesight suddenly in my left eye. It lasted less than a minute. It was like a pop and vision was gone. A month later, I lost vision in both eyes. It was like shutters coming down slowly. I don't remember it being a Kaleidoscope effect. However, at night when I turn out lights I get that Kaleidoscope-type sensation and wonder if it's migraine without pain! Another five months later I experienced a sheer drop faint. I could feel the light in my eyes going out. A MRA/MRI showed I had a 5mm perivascular space in the brain along with a 5mm pineal cyst. The neurologist said they'll discover the cause on autopsy but he thought the eyesight pop was an "atypical amaurosis fugax". So nothing done after ophthalmologist test showed retina ok. Just put on surveillance. Nine months after the sudden eyesight loss I went into five hours of palpitations with a huge shudder and my heart leaping to of my chest and the palps stopped. That's when tremors kicked in. I couldn't walk it was so bad down my left side but only I could feel it. I felt I'd had a stroke but my GP reckons it's anxiety. I got so upset over that statement that I opted out of trying to get to the bottom of it and spent next three months including Christmas so unwell with chronic shakes/fatigue. By January, now a year since my first symptom, I couldn't tolerate my lot and went back to the GP asking for help. Only then did they begin the process of checking for arrhythmia. By March 2021 a cardio electrophysiologist who took me seriously and inserted a loop monitor said it revealed aFIB. Still to this day no-one knows the cause of my eyesight loss nor near fainting and real faint. In that time, also lost feeling in feet and arm but nerve conduction test negative. My GP doesn't think my internal shakes (which are best described as orthostatic tremor) is linked to aFIB. She continues to argue NOT and doesn't want to pursue cause in case they find more things wrong with me! Love to know what your genetic blood vessel disease is? Does it have a name? Glad you are OK!

Wow! What a trauma, you've had. Hope you are sorted out soon xYes, it's a rare condition called HHT. Hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia. Missing or deformed capillaries which can cause problems all over, usually in mucosal areas like mouth or gut or lungs, but mainly nosebleeds which can be so horrendous that some poor folk require very regular blood transfusions! Luckily, I only have it, as far as I know, in liver ,(usually benign but can cause heart enlargement) and nose for which I have had several ops including a skin graft. There's no cure and all the ops have to be repeated as the 'curly veins' (as I call them) grow back.

Thanks for your interest xx

It's not great to have anything like that but at least you know. It's the not knowing that is sooooo frustrating. When you know, you can either accept it, or do something about it!

Glad you are ok and also got some good news! Ive had two kailaidascope migraines..........bit weird but quite fascinating! First time I went to my local opticians who told me what it was pre Afib. Second time I knew so just rested. No idea why I had them! They were about threes years apart.

I've had these visual migraines for about 40 years. They usually last 10-30 minutes. Quite often a light flashing in my eyes (sometimes the sun) can trigger one. A friend once took a flash photo of me and that set one off. I used to get them more often, but now they've perhaps decreased a little with age. Once I have one others quite often follow over the next few days. I've also noticed that if I have one in the daytime, that evening if I'm sat for a while and then get up I get a slight pain in my head. They're of no concern to me, but as yours was something new it's always wise to get it checked out.


A flash photo! Wow! Good job you are not followed by the papparazzi! Thank you for your kind words x

I had the kaleidoscope patterns after my first ablation. I have had 2. To me it appear like glass crystals on a chandelier. Called Electrophysiologist and he said he never heard of such but go to ER. Went ER Doc found nothing. Issue went away next day

Jajarunner profile image
Jajarunner in reply to BC50

Sounds very common, and it's quite pretty! But best to get it checked out since visual problems are common with strokes, methinks

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