Falkenstein was doing a little shopping when she had a frightening and
somewhat "psychedelic" experience. She looked in the
dressing room mirror and a third of her vision in one eye was
drastically distorted. "I could see my head and my toes, but
right in the middle it was as if I was looking through a kaleidoscope.
I was viewing my body through tiny shards of shiny glass with
irregular edges." The optical phenomenon was accompanied by
pressure centered on the upper portion of her forehead. "At first
I thought I might be having a seizure." She headed straight to an
eyeglass store in the mall. "The optometrist told me I was having
an ocular migraine and said they were fairly common. I thought, ĎThen
how is it that most of us have never heard of it?í"
According to Dr.
Janel Schneider, a neurologist with Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group,
the ocular or retinal migraine happens to one in 200 people. Itís
caused by the same changes in your brain chemistry, blood vessels or
nerve excitability that cause regular migraines, only itís taking
place in your retina or in areas of your brain associated with
experience flashing lights, wavy lines going through your vision or
actual blind spots. You might not think itís a migraine because the
pain isnít as severe as a normal migraine and doesnít last as
long. In fact you might not feel any pain at all," explains
Schneider, who goes on to say that over-the-counter pain relief might
be your best bet. "If we treated the ocular migraine with
traditional migraine medication, chances are the pain would be gone
before the medication kicked in."
Still, she says
you should take it seriously. If you experience any new or sudden
change in your vision, the safest thing to do is go to the emergency
room or see a medical professional immediately to make sure itís
nothing more serious.