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Vision Changes

Migraine vision changes: An introduction

In addition to causing pain, migraines often cause changes in the senses. The most common sense impacted is eyesight. Migraine sufferers may experience vision changes before, during or after the pain subsides. Others have only the visual migraine symptoms, but no pain. Typically vision changes last only a few minutes, usually from one minute to a half hour. Vision changes are very common in those who suffer from migraine with aura.

Migraine types for vision changes:

Vision changes that may occur:

  • Blurry vision
  • Temporary loss of vision or partial vision loss
  • Double vision
  • Cloudy vision
  • Blind spots
  • Sparkles of different colors
  • Tunnel vision, or loss of peripheral vision
  • Flickering light
  • Jagged lights
  • Flashes, spots, lines or other symptoms associated with aura
  • Sensitivity to light, also called photophobia
  • Illusions
  • Sensitivity to visual patterns, such as stripes or graphs
  • Distorted vision

One 1992 study of 47 people who suffered from migraine with aura reported a range of vision disturbances.

Symptoms included:

  • Blind spots, 81 percent
  • Seeing angles or spots of flickering light, 77 percent
  • Double vision, 21 percent

A 1998 study found a wide range of visual disturbances.

Visual symptoms included:

  • Seeing heat rising off the ground
  • Seeing things jumping in front of both eyes
  • Poor vision
  • Halo
  • Seeing disco lights
  • Vision resembles looking through a kaleidoscope
  • Bright lines
  • Visual interference preventing reading
  • Geometric figures
  • Wiggling lines
  • Wavy vision
  • Jumping images
  • Dancing black or white spots
  • Sight appears to be covered by a sheet

Researchers believe visual symptoms are the result of alterations in blood flow and pressure, which spread across the brain changing the migraine sufferer’s eyesight.


Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010
Migraine with aura and migraine without aura, Cephalagia, Rasmussen 1992