It’s harmless but feels a little frightening the first time you get it

I first had a visual migraine around 10 years ago. I didn’t have any idea what it was, so had to Google the symptoms. I had one today, which is what prompted me to write this. I don’t think that most people have even heard of it, let alone know what it is.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital describes the symptoms as

… a temporary visual distortion that often begins with a small sparkling, shimmering area that slowly expands outward. The growing spot often has jagged, zig-zag edges. The visual symptoms typically last approximately 20–30 minutes and then completely resolve. The area where vision is disrupted is known as a ‘scotoma’ and the whole episode is often referred to as an ‘aura.

This is exactly what happens when I get one. The sparkling and shimmering area looks quite spectacular if you focus on it. I usually get this around once a year.

There can be many different triggers, but for me, it seems to be fatigue, too much screen time, and too much caffeine. At least one of those is always involved, but it’s difficult to pin down an exact cause.

Many people get headaches along with the aura, but I’ve never had one.

As I get these so infrequently that’s there’s not much I can do about them. When one starts I just need to rest for 20–30 minutes and let it pass. I can’t read when I get one, as I get blurry areas in my vision if I’m looking at something close up. If I look into the distance, my vision is clear.

For me, it always starts with a small, shimmering, zig-zag arc to the left of my vision. This arc grows progressively until it looks like it goes from the top to the bottom of my head. It then moves to the left and disappears.

I found this video on YouTube that shows pretty much what I see, although mine is a little less colorful. It’s actually quite beautiful.

Have you ever had a visual migraine?