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Dilated pupils, anyone?

Only recently did I stumble upon a strange phenomenon: I am of the belief that my pupils dilate when I’m having a Migraine attack. Has this happened to anyone else?

Here’s a photo of my eyeball taken when I’m feeling fine.

Here’s a photo taken IN THE SAME LIGHT when I’m in the midst of a Migraine attack.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • taraceleste
    2 years ago

    Today is my 7th day straight with a migraine, I went to urgent care twice my dr once and by ambulance to the emergency room. I really would like to give more details but I am in the midst of a migraine right now that I have had almost all day. I only get 9 sumatriptan pills a month and I only have 4 left so I am to scared to take one cause I got them 4 days ago. Anyways the ambulance came. I called them because I was haveing symptoms that were different than what I am used to having. One is 2 days prior I looked at my phone and couldn’t see anything clearly, I got scared caise I saw perfectly the day before. Anyway I talked to the paramedics and they did my vitals asked what was wrong I told them I had a migraine but things were different. I explained what I was feeling then they asked are you using anything. I told them no. In the ambulance the girl sat back with me asking things…then she pops the question. Are you using anything.. No I say..she says well your pupils are really big…I say. Like what(by now I am really offended and more uncomfortable than I already was) I already knew where she was going with these questions. She proceeded to say.. Like methamphetamine maybe..are you sure your not. I told her no! I wanted to tell her do you want me to pee in a cup… But what ever. By the time we arrived at the hospital my pills kicked in and I was so uncomfortable and offended I called my kid to come get me.the end :-).

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    I’m sorry you had this very uncomfortable experience, taraceleste, it’s so disconcerting to seek help and be met with that kind of suspicion. I thought you might be interested in reading: Emergency Migraine Treatment: Forms to Simplify Matters and Tips & tricks for successful ER trip which may make your next visit a little more comfortable. Thanks for being part of the community, we’re glad you’re here! -Warmly, Donna ( team)

  • James Duane
    7 years ago

    My pupils also dilate during my worst migraines. I’ve had a TBI and several eye surgeries so not sure where to begin or which beget what.

  • Rhett Osment
    8 years ago

    I’ve had this as well, but a new symptom is that all vision in that eye went completely blurry. Doctor has put me on a preventitive and said if that didn’t help within a couple of months they would investigate further. He said it was probably ocular migraine with neurologic conatations? not much info online.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    I am so glad I found your blog. I have migraine-associated vertigo (MAV) and woke up today to dilated pupils. This has never happened before and, after looking at the list of causes (mainly poisoning and recent brain injury), I am glad to see your pics. That is exactly how my eyes look right now – very dilated. Now I don't feel like I have to see my doctor this very minute and can wait till tomorrow.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    OMG! The exact same thing just happened to me. I went to lunch with a couple of friends and they commented on how large my pupils were.I've never noticed this before nor has anyone ever remarked about this. Funny thing is when I got back to the office I started to get a migraine (which I suffer from regularly. I checked out my pupils in the mirror and they really were huge. So I googled it and found your remark. I think it's spot on and I have actually heard that this can happen.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    My 10-year old daughter has had something called Cyclic Vomiting Disease, which is also known as abdominal migraine. It’s now morphing into headache and stomach migraines and her pupils get huge when she’s having one. It looks exactly like your photo. I’ve got a call into the headache specialist to ask about this…

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    My pupils dilate when I have a migraine. My husband always says I have “shark eyes” because the pupil gets so big and my eyes look black. They stay that way until the headache subsides.

  • Ashley717
    10 years ago

    I just went to my Neurologist this Thursday with the same problem. My left pupil was wayyy larger than the other. It kind of scared me… He got me in the same day to have a CTA-Angiogram to look at the bloodflow and today I had an MRI focused on my optic nerves. Kinda anxious to hear results… Is this normal for migraines??? The dilation went away after about 12 hrs. In that time I had a headache on that side of my head-migraine I presume…Any comments would be great!

  • deborah
    11 years ago

    oh ys, my pupils dilate, too. and get very bloodshot, watery, droopy, etc.

  • Katie H
    11 years ago

    Mine too- and underneath part, where bags would be if/ when I have them gets slightly puffed up. People who see me everyday can tell the difference.

    I think it’s a blood vessel thing, makes sense, right?

  • rain gem
    11 years ago

    My sister has the exact same thing;

    You two should compare notes, could be some meds you both taking.

  • N. Ayad
    11 years ago

    Yes, I’ve noticed this as well. I mentioned it to an opthomologist. Their response? A shrug. Which, of course means nothing.

  • Sue
    11 years ago

    I’ll be checking too. Interesting…

  • Megan Oltman
    11 years ago

    Wow! I agree with Diana about your eyes! This might explain photo-sensitivity! I know my eyes look weird to me in an attack but never looked that closely.
    – megan

  • Diana Lee
    11 years ago

    You have such pretty eyes!

    What an interesting correlation you’ve identified. I’ve never noticed whether my pupils react that way, but I’ll definitely be checking now.

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