Is Your Visual Disturbance Pain Free and Harmless?

Did you know the visual disturbance that accompanies migraines is often pain free and harmless?

A friend of mine just gets some zigzag lightning bolts in his peripheral vision. There is no pain. He thinks it’s neat!

Visual Disturbance

Ah but to dream of a pain-free migraine, more of a pain-free life.

When I notice my vision is blurred and I feel pressure behind my eyes, I know I am in for a migraine attack.

My eye pain turns into a full blown classical migraine attack. But it can last ten days which gives it another classification of status migraineous.

But if you just get brief visual disturbance symptoms that are pain free, please take a minute to count yourself lucky.

Here are some things I would recommend even though you don’t get the pain, in order to reduce your visual hallucinations or to stop it from progressing into a full blown migraine attack.

Common Visual Disturbance with Migraines

Visual Disturbance Child

• Blurred vision or rough edges

• Sparkly or dots in the air

• A glow or halo around images

• Peripheral hallucinations

• A slowly expanding field of visual hallucinations

• No pain


In mild cases, visual abnormalities commonly last between 20 to 30 minutes and then stop. No, babies don't get visual disturbance, I just loved this picture and it reminded me that sometimes it can be like looking through broken glass.

Warning: be aware that something could be wrong if you are seeing black! No sparkling or nothing expanding, nothing annoying! If you are just seeing darkness then something might be up. 

Please call someone or just go to the closest emergency room at the closest hospital. It could be something more serious, like having a stroke, especially if you are unable to speak properly.

Read these articles on migraine stroke risks and migraine stroke symptoms for more details. 

Practical Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Now visual disturbance may not cause pain or a full blown attack, but the symptoms can still be very scary.

Not being able to see can impact significantly on your life in general.

If it passes quickly that's great, but if it doesn't here are some practical choices, I think you can make.


Act Quickly

Act quickly to rest your eyes when you first feel the sensations of visual dysfunction. If you are working with machinery or driving, you may need to pull over or stop working right away and rest your eyes.

I suggest seeing your doctor to make sure nothing else is wrong.

Take some notes when you have an, shall we call it an attack? Keep a migraine diary to show your doctor.

Or you can use it for yourself to help determine what the triggers are if your attacks get more regular.


Be Prepared - Know Your Triggers

Visual Disturbance Text Box Tip

Your notes will help you to see patterns in your visual disturbance occurrences.

Like Bridget Jones' Diary - one hot dog, one aura, one red wine, one big zigzag!

You might find you have similar triggers to a more common type of migraine attack: chocolate, red wine, fatigue, stress, skipping meals, and of course, eye strain.

Glare can trigger a migraine and it comes from many sources.

Your computer screen, sunshine, off water, off snow, the car in front of you while driving, the neighbors car parked in the driveway ... you get the idea. 

Ask your doctor for help here too. S/he can help you determine what might need to change. 

Once you know your triggers, you can avoid them. Stress can be a migraine trigger. Have you considered reducing stress in your life? Keep reading, I will cover that in a minute!


Reduce Glare With Tinted Lenses

Wearing sunglasses are a good way to protect your eyes.

I live in Australia and the important thing here is to wear 'sunnies' everywhere.

PS - Australians shorten every word ... sunglasses becomes sunnies. Proper protection from the sun here is crucial. 

You can get Theraspecs on amazon now. 

You can also get precision tinted lenses for migraines. I would highly recommend trying them if your visual disturbances become more and more regular.

The most common tint is FL 41, but I cannot wear that rose color, it makes me feel very anxious.

I suggest seeing a qualified eye doctor that specializes in migraines and has a colorimeter for you to determine your unique color.

But if they are not regular, it might be that you need do nothing! If they are regular, perhaps it's time to reduce some stress.


Reduce Stress

Did your first experience frighten you? It might help to learn some relaxation techniques to lower your anxiety around it.

Finding out exactly what you are diagnosed with will help reduce anxiety and give you a starting point on how to best deal with your medical condition.

For instant relief I use ice packs and bed rest. But if your eye problems are mild try the old slice of cold cucumber instead.

Or if heat feels better, try a nice damp, hot, face wash cloth with somewhere dark and quiet to relax for half an hour.

Simple changes like scheduling in time for yourself to relax, is another good step. Exercise is always recommended to help reduce migraine attacks.

Learn to meditate. Read the meditation for migraines section for some more ideas.

Learn biofeedback training or take a yoga class.

Listen to Dr. Weil’s Breathing CD, it is one of my favorites.

These are good too:

Coping with Migraines

I can recommend seeing your doctor immediately with any new symptoms that occur in your life.

And with visual disturbance you must also see an eye doctor.

I would also suggest educating yourself on what you have been diagnosed with.

You might like to read these popular posts:

I think learning new coping skills is essential to managing chronic conditions. 

Keep your eyes healthy, the best way you can.

With all the tools you can.




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With this new information, what one thing can you do now to reduce your attacks?