Does anyone else get visual colour disturbances before their migraines?

I know that visual disturbances are quite common before and during migraine but that seems to normally be flashing lights ... though I wasn't aware of that until a few years ago and hadn't noticed that I also got flashing lights until I was talking to a friend who has headacheless migraines where the only symptom is visual disturbances (bad news as she is a minature artist). However, once I was aware of the visual disturbances I started to notice that I'd see patches of the field of vision in a distorted colour a few hours before a migraine 'proper' would start - colour varies - yellow, red, blue, green. Just wondered if anyone else gets similar.

33 Replies

  • I get quite severe aura, which is always the first sign that a migraine is approaching - it starts off as a tiny dot so small that I'm never quite sure if it's migraine related or if I've just looked at a bright light! This then grows and grows over the space of about 20 mins until I can barely 'see' anything other than the aura! I've NEVER experienced the flashing lights that a lot of people describe on here - the best way I can describe my aura is akin to a drop of water on a mobile phone or computer screen, where you see a sort of rainbow effect...

    I'm quite similar to your friend - i rarely get a substantial headache but my other symptoms are debilitating aura, followed by complete numbness in my hands, then lips and cheeks followed by loss of speech and strangely my spelling degrades to what I can only describe as migraine induced dyslexia whereby I cannot remember certain letters or words or mix them up completely!

    Migraine seems to take so many different forms or variations of specific forms (eg the aura that you have described rather than flashing lights that so many other people suffer with) that I would wager a substantial amount of money that you are not alone in your specific experience.

  • thanks for sharing this

  • My spelling goes all wonky too! I was locked out of my email account for days during one bad attack as I just could not recall the password at all. I have also gone into a pharmacy to ask for medication and told them "I'm having a microwave", and in a fancy restaurant where my husband was eating something with haricots vert, asked if he was enjoying "those varicose veins" (before making a sharp exit to throw up).

  • thats exactly how i have aura its a pain as you don't never know when it will arrive except for the dots, if im stressed it gets often do you have them....

  • I'm lucky in that I get migraine quite rarely - only 2 or 3 'batches' a year. I say batches as I usually get 2 or 3 episodes within a week of each other. I'm think now days that the batches might actually be one migraine that lingers for 7-10 days. Not pleasant at all but compared to some of the people on here I think I get off quite lightly.

  • my migraines are triggered by hormonal changes so get twice a month though they can go on for a few days and like Chove it can look as if I am having one a day for 3+ days.

    Bad ones probably every couple of months and they can lay me up for 1-2 days

  • how do you cope with it, lately I have been getting migraine with an aura more frequently than normal

  • aura_sufferer this is a really old post - might be better to start your own thread.

    Do you know what triggers your migraines. For me aura isn't the worst symptom - just a bit irritating when I can't focus - my worst symptoms are gut spasms and all I can do if those hit is lie down and wait it out.

  • Really, I can't cope with migraine auras as I get blinded by it but the after effect is just as bad. You are right, I should start a new thread.

  • do you have any medication - you need to take it as soon as the aura starts.

    sorry that your aura is so bad- mine's pretty minor really.

  • If I take paracetamol before the migraine when migraine aura starts then it becomes manageable however if I keep taking it the effect of the medicine starts to decrease. The other thing that happens is my head feels clouded like I can't think properly

  • unfortunately fog is part of the migraine - I got so bad a couple of weeks ago I had to ask someone else to divide something by 2.

    have you spoken to GP - may be that a triptan might be more effective for you.

    I also find that sometimes some aromas - particularly citrus and ylang ylang can help ease things a bit.

  • I have and I have been prescribed triptan before but I didn't end up taking it because of the side effects, I have spoken with my gp and kept a dairy about food as well but I don't think that really helped

  • triptans get prescribed in ridiculously high doses - much more than you need and overdosing can be pretty horrible - I take rizatriptan but only take 1/8 to 1/4 of the standard dose - to start off with and may be a little more later if it hasn't quite done the full job. Which triptan were you prescribed?

  • Sumitriptan

  • probably a bit late if you are in the middle of an attack to be taking anything but if you still have some and it is in date you could try taking a 1/4 tablet next time you feel aura and see what that does.

    what side-effects did you have last time?

  • No that's the thing I should try it but because I was afraid of the side effect I just didn't try it.

  • every medication - even paracetamol - has side effects.

    try taking a small amount and see how it goes - but you need to take it when you first have the aura.

  • Thank you, I will try taking a small amount of it.

  • I am glad and thankful for taking your time to go through the solution for me. Much appreciated

  • My first sign is noticed in dim lighting or around the computor screen where there are speckles of grey/white/black miniature flares,( imagine those lamps with foil confetti in them, that is a similar sparkly chaos), when there is a noise they "explode" across my vision then go back to the edges.About an hour later every colour is too bright and again noises make them flare intensely

    I also get the black spot in the centre of my vision and find myself trying to look around it (Duh)

    The zig zags in the left eye corner are not too disruptive

  • I get the speckles but don't get as much visual disturbance - though I do notice that focusing gets more difficult - like the image I'm looking at has been pixelated. In general though I tend not to have a problem with light - but I do get very sensitive to smell and touch.

  • I get bright sparks of blue light, very occasionally it's pink or red, and bright white patches. I also get migraines without headaches and sometimes only get the coloured lights, no other symptoms. It was interesting to read that your friend only has these symptoms as numerous opticians have said this can't possibly be migraine and I have even been referred to hospital with suspected detached retina only to find everything in my eyes is normal - I knew it was migraine!

    Sometimes everything seems to get a grey film over it but not often. Other times I can't bear the brightness of everything. Last migraine I got was in an airport last week - I swear the lighting brought it on. Luckily it went with medication before boarding the plane.

  • Thanks

    - years ago I used to take an ergotamine for the migraines - which is what my mother used to use - took it once before a flight because I had a migraine starting and found that it really did wonders for the fuzzy head that comes with being in a compressed environment on a plane - rather naughtily I used to take it regularly after that when I flew - albeit in very small dosages 1/4 of a tablet - and could read and all sorts of things that I'd never managed before on flights (all long-haul in those days).

    I don't think anyone is quite sure what migraines are and I really don't think opticians are the best people to be telling you whether or not you have migraines! There seem to be lots of different symptoms that affect all sorts of people in different ways.

  • Have to admit at my last eye test I fibbed when they asked if I ever saw flashing lights, and I was in and out of there in no time! (My usual response of "yes, almost every day" sends them into a panic and I am then detained whilst they carry out more tests). I guess if the symptoms and visual disturbances don't change it's more than likely migraine, though of course if anything new and worrying happened I'd go and see a doctor.

  • Hi

    I get bad auras before my migraine starts, Normally i get small dots that appear then they grow bigger and bigger until i feel like i cant see, or my eyesight starts to shake which when it's happening it feels really weird as tho someone is shaking me and if im sleeping i wake up because i can feel them shaking. And sometimes i get zig zags lines across my eyesight which is hard to see things.

  • Thanks for this - I often wake up with the migraine so interesting to hear about the shaking - though I'm not conscious of it. Does the aura ever give you enough warning to be able to take medication and have that work before all the other symptoms kick in?

  • No I wish, most of the time it comes on within 5 ten mins, I have injections to get it into m system quicker. I needed to get nerve blocks done because alot of the time the mediation doesn't work. Do u get much time before ur migraines starts?

  • I think the light - if I notice it is probably quite a bit before (a few hours) but l'm not very good at taking the hint and would rather not take medication if I can get way with it. Generally Rizatriptan works quite quickly for me - 20-30 mins but sometimes the migraines don't respond to that (left side v right side) and those I just have to ride out - which can take a couple of days.

  • Yes I get an orange light as though i looked at the sun. I see a small blind spot which gradually develops into a flashing circle the flashing outside is totally blind. This gradually disappears and replaced by headache pain nausea and dizziness. I have MS dont know if this is connected hope it helps .

  • Sorry to hear about the MS - not good. The post was more about curiosity than anything else. It's good to have a warning sign if you have meds that can help and possibly start acting before all the other stuff starts.

  • i get the same usually blue dots before, loss of vision too.hope it helps

  • I get this!

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