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Migraine Vision Loss, a patients perspective

I have had several occurrences of temporary vision loss during my life time.  Fortunately for me my vision loss was not associated with a migraine headache.  My doctor has since diagnosed these events as a migraine of the optic nerve.  Another term is "migraine with aura".  I have since discovered, at least in my case, how to avoid these "lost vision" occurrences.  In my case there is no migraine headache or really any headache at all.  In hindsight, these vision loss occurrences were occuring, very slightly, even in my mid twenties when I was in peak physical condition.  The occurrences were almost always toward the end, or after, very strenuous physical exercise.  What would occur during those instances was a very small area near the center of my field of vision would begin to become distorted.  This would usually go away quickly and I used to think of it perhaps as loss of blood pressure, for instance when you stand up too quickly, you feel faint and this may affect your vision.  It would tend to last much longer than this though.

As I have aged (hopefully gracefully)

In my 40's there were two more severe vision loss occurrences.  I had finished my work day and was meeting a coworker for some singles tennis.  I have played tennis since I was a senior in high school and reached a fairly high skill level.  At these skill levels you can get very intense exercise and we would usually play for an hour and half or so.  During this particular session I did notice the very minor distortion I mentioned above but it really was not a problem while we played.  We packed it in for the evening and I had probably been driving for about 25 minutes when the distortion came back first in my right eye, at first not much.  But very quickly this distortion or lost vision spread to at least a full quadrant of my field of view.  I was still trying to drive but I was already thinking about driving straight to the doctors office.  Now my left eye started the same pattern, a small loss of vision at first then spreading to a full quadrant.  Meanwhile my right eye now had distortion ( vision loss ) in two full quadrants.  I could not see to safely drive anymore so I pulled over.  I sat for about 20 minutes and my vision began to slowly recover.  Finally, to the point where I decided to drive home, a shorter drive than the doctors office.  The next day I did see my doctor and this is where the diagnosis of migraine of the optic nerve was reached.  I have never heard of this diagnosis or known of a temporary vision loss condition like this before.  And this was before you could easily do a Google search on the Internet to see who else this might have happened too.  I did ask around quite a bit but nobody I talked to new of it.

Please read Nate Wilson's experience with identical symptoms at age 23!

A few years later I was skiing

We had just gone in for lunch, relaxed, had some food and drink, and were heading back out to ski.  A good strenuous day, but Blue Mountain, while challenging, is not a killer mountain.  But after two more runs, here it comes again, minor distortion in the vision in the right eye which was rapidly spreading toward two quadrants.  I told my fellow skiers I had to stop because of vision loss.  After an hour or so my vision cleared up, but I decided I should not ski again that day and drove home.

The same condition with a migraine headache

Probably a week later I was talking with one of my older coworkers who also had been skiing with me the day I lost my vision.  To my surprise he says, I have had temporary vision loss several times over the years, and I have some acquaintances who have had similar problems.  In his case however there was almost always a fairly severe migraine headache accompanying the vision loss.

In my case I have realized, at least partially, a contributing factor or cause

Almost invariably when I played tennis after work I would not have had any dinner.  One of the things I learned when playing tennis over the years is that I would play a much better game if I had a piece of chocolate or candy before I played, this was probably especially true when I was basically skipping dinner.  The candy definitely gives you a quick energy boost that can last, at least for me, an hour or two.  Guess what I drank with my lunch on my skiing day, hot chocolate.  I normally wouldn't have hot chocolate, probably a beer, but who knows why that day hot chocolate.  In hindsight there was a definite correlation with strenuous exercise, and candy, probably chocolate, and my vision loss occurrences.  I did mention this to my doctor and he said, "whatever works for you".

I thought I should pass this bit of my experience on, hopefully to help someone else who might have the same problem.

References:

One final note, I do have Low Tension Glaucoma

If you ever do have "vision distortion" make sure you tell your doctor and more importantly your optometrist.  Also do not call it distortion, use the term "vision loss".  I have created a small write up about my Low Tension Glaucoma and explain my experiences and why you should say "lost vision".

Please remember I am not a doctor, these are my observations about a condition which has occurred to me.  Please also note there a probably many other far more serious sources of temporary vision loss, so see your doctor.  It has been quite a few years since a recurrence, and still, I avoid large doses of sugar before strenuous exercise.

Thanks, I hope this has helped,
Bob

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