When it Rains… On Ophthalmic Migraines

Today Guido was planning to take me to Balducci’s to get the ingredients for him to make a ragù alla bolognese (one of his specialties). Unfortunately, I was hit again by an ophthalmic migraine.  Now I know what it is because we did an Internet search.  All I knew so far was that in the past I had some incidents of distorted vision with wavy or jagged lines, or as if Iwere peering through a cracked glass window, but without a headache, and no pain.

I had a few of those in the past, and I remember that the doctor thought it could have been a “mini stroke” but the tests didn’t show that.  This week it happened on Tuesday, Friday, and today – too many!  It is a very scary feeling, especially since it has to do with the eyes.  Instead of trying to relax, as recommended, I get more edgy, naturally.  I have an appointment with Dr. Pennington on Tuesday, and we’ll see what he says. Guido has promised me that he will be present. When he is not, P does not let me talk.   But, as I said, thanks to the Internet, I know it is not too serious.  The causes are so vague that it would be almost impossible to prevent!
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Here are some excerpts from articles about this condition, if you are interested.

Ophthalmic migraines are a little known form of migraine. Ophthalmic or ocular migraines are sometimes called silent migraines, because they can occur with or without a headache being present. They are characterized by a visual disturbance that occurs in one eye.  Many persons who have migraines describe them as if they are peering through a cracked glass window.  Others describe their visual field as having  twinkling lights (scintillations) or distorted vision (metamorphopsia) with wavy or jagged lines. Unfortunately, physicians do not fully understand the causes of ophthalmic migraines.

Current hypotheses for causes of ophthalmic migraines include a vascular spasm or intermittent constriction in the blood vessels located behind the eyes, changes in blood flow to areas of the brain responsible for vision, problems within the nerve pathways or chemistry within the brain.

Stress is an associated risk factor with ophthalmic migraines. The body’s stress response causes a multitude of changes in the hormones within the body. These can alter sleep, interfere with the fluid balance and cause mood alterations.

Ophthalmic migraines are unlike other types of migraines, in that they primarily affect the eyes. This special type of migraine usually lasts 15 minutes to several hours; however, on rare occasions the damage to the visual field may be permanent.  As with other types of migraines, the person who experiences this type of migraine is often exhausted at the conclusion of the experience.  During the ophthalmic migraine and immediately afterward, rest as been shown to provide some benefit to migraineurs. Ophthalmic migraines can be dangerous, because they impact your vision and thus make one prone to accidents.  Notify your health care provider if this is a new symptom for you or if these types of migraines are occurring with increasing frequency.
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This would not have bothered me so much were it not for the fact that I am already feeling worse than ever.  It is not easy, but I keep trying to be optimistic.  I only wish I could be in San Francisco or in Lake Garda now, so I’ll try:    Beam me up, Scotty! It may work…

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About martisima

After over 50 years of teaching literature to undergraduate and graduate students, I feel I have earned my retirement (it happened when I was 72, five years ago). I do miss the classroom, however, but not the meetings and all other requirements of the profession. I love teaching, and wish I could still do it. But now I read for pleasure, and watch films, and listen to all kinds of music (no TV, though). I love to travel, and hope I can resume doing it soon. I need to get over my health issues caused by thyroid surgery three years ago!
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3 Responses to When it Rains… On Ophthalmic Migraines

  1. Wish you could be here, too! It’s interesting what this article says, given that migraines in general are affected by hormones. So although I know they don’t know the causes, perhaps your hormonal situation, plus the stress of that, might contribute to this. Hope they go away soon!!!

  2. John B. Parrish says:

    For me, Martisima, approximately 1/6th of a liter of wine, either red or white, taken internally during the attack of these physiological problems, seems to help me through medical issues which, like yours, are unexplainable. And, even when the issues are known and explained, the same “medicine” seems to help. For example, on Tuesday, I am going to the Medical Center to have a catheter removed and replaced and, on Thursday, I am having cataract surgery. But, in these cases, I will ingest the “medicine” after the events. Music played during application of the “medicine” (yes, music from both Argentina and Brasil) is often helpful. In severe attacks of these issues, I sometimes feel constrained to double the dosage, which I know in my heart is the right thing to do.

    Might I suggest…?

  3. martisima says:

    Thanks, John Brett, for your suggestion. Guess it is not a bad idea, and I may try it!

    God luck with your health issues!

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