Visual Migraine

Known Johnson experienced a visual migraine, which is when the blood vessels in the visual center of the brain are affected, causing weird vision sensations. He then created a flash animation to show others what the experience is like. Link -via Metafilter

I think the technical name for this is a scintillating scotoma: I've looked into these before because I used to get them fairly frequently (no actual migraines, though).
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Wow, this is the first time I've seen this condition visualized. That's exactly what it looks like. I get these about once a month, with no accompanying headache.

They last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Kind of nauseating when they first occurred a year or so ago, now I just wait them out. Very annoying, though, since they don't disappear when I close my eyes. And mine are a bit more transparent than the movie version.
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Thanks for this. Well, thanks for passing this along. I've spent the past 10 years trying to describe this to people. Now I have a visual aid. It's actually a handy marker for me, since I know when the visions start coming, I can down a few Tylenol or Motrin, which effectively staves off what used to be immobilizing pain.
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I really hate it when people refer to headaches as migraines. They say that you can just get rid of a migraine with a Tylenol or aspirin. It's really cool that someone found out how to display the visuals of this particular kind of migraine.
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Show me the documentation that actually shows the "blood vessels in the visual center of the brain" reacting to produce a migrane. What photography or method of documentation is used to show this? I'll spare you the hassle - there is no documentation...
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I get migraines (actual migraines and not just headaches) and the best way I've found to describe to people what it's like when one starts to come on... is to describe the "flickering" part like being in a room with a ceiling light and a ceiling fan spinning under it. Stare at it for a long enough time, turn away and try to read something... You pretty much can't. The residual flickering and fatigue in your eyes makes it difficult. Compound that with a major, throbbing headache and oversensitivity to light and sounds... and you're about halfway there.
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I read the guy's retelling about how this happened when he was driving, etc...

I wonder why he didn't just pull over and wait it out, rather than trying to 'pay close attention to his surroundings' while it went on for a half-hour.
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"just a guy
September 25th, 2008 at 3:45 pm

I read the guy’s retelling about how this happened when he was driving, etc…

I wonder why he didn’t just pull over and wait it out, rather than trying to ‘pay close attention to his surroundings’ while it went on for a half-hour."

Because Migraines aren't something that just come and go. You get home and hope it passes in time after depriving yourself of any sensory stimulation. If you're driving, you're pretty much boned until you are able to get someplace quiet and dark. The longer you are somewhere else, the longer the migraine will last and the more potentially severe it will become.
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Holy heck, this happened to me about 3 years ago. I was at my computer, looking at the screen, and when it started, (I'm a graphic artist) I seriously wondered if I was looking at a weird lens flare filter in Photoshop. When I couldn't alt+tab away from it, I started to worry :)
It goes on even when you close your eyes! And you can't help but try to follow it with your eyes... Very disturbing.

It kept gradually getting worse over about 20 minutes until everything was white, and I couldn’t see anything. And it dissipated after about 5 minutes, but I was light headed the rest of the day.
I called my eye doctor, and told her, and she descibed it as an 'optical migraine'.
I’m glad it hasn’t happened again.
I would NOT drive during one of these. Just the light headedness would be enough to make me pull over.
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I get these every few months and have been having them since the late 1960s. They never involve pain of any kind, just annoyingly affect my field of vision until they go away, usually about 15 minutes.

I used to get migraine headaches (went away when I quit using The Pill) and while this phenomenon is similar to the pre-migraine aura I used to get, it isn't quite the same.

Glad to see someone has come up with a graphic of it, though, as I've never been able to describe it to anyone either.
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I've gotten these three or four times, during heavy stress. I found that for me getting away from everything to a calm place and lie down greatly reduces or completely removes the effect and lessens the headache afterwards.
The first time it happened I was playing badminton and after a while I was very lightheaded and only had a small patch of unobstructed vision. It was frightening at the time as I had no idea what was going on.
I would describe my version of it as pouring a liquid on your field of vision that heavily refracts the light, as well as the whole rainbow flashing colors thing...
It's only in the last few years that I learned it's a sort of migraine.
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The only migraine I ever had resulted in a bizarre bright whiteness all around my vision. Everything just lit up as if spotlights were on them.
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I'm glad someone took the trouble to visualize this. I've been having them too (luckily without any headache / migraine), but I was wondering what it was. It's very annoying and disorienting.
I'm glad I have something to show people, as it was really tough to describe.
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Hmm, I've been experiencing a similar phenomenon (only the zig-zagging is more black and white than color) for years. I didn't realize there was a name for it. I never particularly worried as it never lasted terribly long and never hurt or anything.
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I get these right before actual migraines... Except the shape kinda looks like a blank line, and the colors bend around it... Then as my migraine gets worse, the shape gets longer, and bigger... It also increases the size of my blind spot, so I can't see anything small.
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i had my first experiance with this when i was 27yrs old.i am now 55 yrs old and i still get them about once a month.for me,they seem to be stress related.considering the stress of the economy,i expect to having a lot of altered vision this year
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