National Migraine Centre

Does anyone get visual m,igraines so b asd that they lose their sight?

Also with bright patterns and other disturbances? I have always had occasional very bad migraines accompanied bysickness etc, since early childhood. In my mid-fifties this new phenomenon happened. it was painless while I lost my sight. I thought I'd got a detached retina, or that I'd had a stroke. it lasted for an hour. i was completely blind. Someone called an ambulance and I was taken into hospital. They thought I'd had a brain bleed, but an MRI scan was ok. They kept me in overnight, and the next day told me they thought it was an unusual kind of migraine. That was about 8 or 9 years ago.

Since then I've had those episodes from time to time, never quite as bad as the first time, but bad enough. Uusually with bright patterns, sometimes with blurred or wavy vision, often with a headache afterwards, but the episode is painless. They leave me disorientated, feeling nauseous and sometimes unbalanced, as if I have vertigo. That can last for a few days. If I can lie down when it comes on then it goes more quickly.

Other, ordinary migraines have diminished, and these optical migraines are less frequent. I have a medication called Propranolol modified release. Last summer I saw a neurologist and he said that probably this medication was indeed reducing the frequency. My health is pretty good the rest of the time. I'm in my late sixties.

In his book on mibgraines, Oliver Sacks describes his own similar experiences.

5 Replies

Hi there, I'm sorry to hear of your experiences.

I experience partial vision loss in one eye if I have a full visual aura, this is in the form of snowing over towards the end of the scintillating scotoma (the zigzag lines that travel around your point of vision). My visual migraines are usually quite strong and start off with blind spots in the field of vision so that I wouldn't be able to see properly out of the same eye for the whole duration of the aura phase, around 40-60 mins. Fortunately like you, I don't have this particular aura too often. They are scary, but they do always pass. If I can I jump into bed and put my head under the duvet when I get these, it's the best place to be for that hour!

Did you have the loss of vision in both or in one eye?

Best wishes


It is scary when you get these symptoms, and really debilitating I do sympathise. Are you taking any medication at the early warning signs of these attacks and does it work?

One of our headache specialists could help if you feel that your current form of acute treatment is inadequate. But if you get worried by an attack that is different to previous ones, please see your GP.

Wishing you all the best.

Reg. Charity National Migraine Centre 0207 251 3322


Thanks, Saffronbread and Rebecca. It seems everyone's experience is particular to them. I don't get travelling zigzag lines. I get a static very bright and colourful image, surrounded by zigzag lines but not travelling ones. It is often as bright as a stained glass window with light coming through it. Very complex geometric patterns. In the centre of the image is a blank area, and it is this blank area that slowly enlarges to fill my vision. There is no sense that it is in one eye. It is the whole vision.

Rebecca, fortunately these are infrequent, and even when they come are not always as severe as that. I do get a good warning, and yes, the neurological consultant has given me medication to take when I get the warning. It does work. The warning comes well before the event, so I can take preventative action such as making sure I am lying down or sitting quietly. Lying down, as Saffronbread describes, is the most effective. Even several hours beforehand I may feel tired and a bit seasick, and at that point, if it is possible, just resting and being quiet may avoid the attack.

So, I am lucky. Thanks.



I did with my very first migraine, i had snow and then it gradually got worse and went to black, very scary at the time. These days i tend to 'loose' my peripheral vision and collide with door ways when i try to walk through them, usually connecting my right shoulder with the frame, something i've grown used to, i guess it's me spacial awareness that goes or i just don't 'notice' the how close to the door frame, not quite sure on that one.

I have heard from other migraine sufferers about loosing their vision, it is very scary when it goes all weird and then you suddenly have no vision. I will sometimes get 'spots' before my eyes - a bit like i've been looking at a light for too long - and they are still there when i shut my eyes, these aren't too frequent though. During tuesdays attack, the whole room was spinning when i stood up, but was perfectly stationary when i was flat on my back.

Hope the above sort of helps.


I get the spinning room too, but not usually for every long.


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