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Is Visualizing Migraine When Your Eyes Are Closed Common?

Hello, I’m pretty worried about this and it is making sleep even more difficult (which isn’t ideal) so any advice or help would be great.

My Brief Migraine Background

A bit of background… I had my first migraine with aura two weeks ago. This is fine, well, it wasn’t at the time I thought I was having a seizure or something as I’d never heard of it before, but now I know it’s fairly common I’m mildly less worried about it. I had another a week ago and it happened after I woke from about 7 hours of sleep. Both seemed to be focussed on my right side/vision. Two nights ago, again upon waking from sleep (but this time after probably about 4-5 hours?) I had my first migraine with nausea that involved intense pain, behind and including, my left eye. I understand this is pretty common too. I haven’t seen it mentioned and I just wanted assurance that people also have some of the many many ‘aura’ type patterns I’ve been experiencing that are located exactly (or in the vicinity of) where the migraine is happening. So in about the top left of my vision every time I woke from sleep I would see a different pattern, the first three were the radiating curves, red/green/blue lines and then the white disappearing ‘cloud’ shapes. If I opened my eyes for a while and closed them again the pattern had gone. This kind of made me scared to sleep and I didn’t again for the rest of that night, with the migraine probably disappearing after about 12 hours! The night before last I slept about 8 hours, again I got the 3 patterns in the bottom right of the link whenever I temporarily woke up, plus one that looked like a ball of webs, 2 or 3 more I forget, and lastly a static type one that freaked me out as I’d heard about visual snow (wish I hadn’t) and have kind of been panicking about something affecting my vision permanently. Should say I didn’t get a headache migraine this time, and just feel like this is the previous migraine ‘auras’ continuing…

Panic, Stress, and Anxiety

Obviously the panicking/stressing/anxiety isn’t helping, nor the lack of sleep, a lot of which has been brought on by previous (and now unforced current) poor sleeping habits, plus the tinnitus that I’ve also had for 2 months now. I went to the doctors and he said auras were common and gave me some drugs (diclofenac and buccastem) which he told me weren’t ototoxic (bad for hearing/tinnitus), but a few links I saw on the internet say otherwise, so I’m a bit reluctant to take them until I’ve found out for certain. Oh, I also had pretty blurry vision the night before the headache migraine (went to the opticians and they said my eyes were fine), which I’m now thinking might be to do with a migraine as well? They haven’t been blurry since then… Anyway, I know that auras are common, but is it common to have repeated, differing auras in the location of the migraine every time upon awakening, and that they continue for I guess about 50 hours (it happened two nights ago, last night I was still getting patterns, and the night just gone I’ve been having dark, ghostly patches where the migraine is located). Thank you for any help!

Community Answers
  • glassmind
    24 mins ago

    I tolerate zofran well but it leaves me foggy. I’ve heard of people having visual hallucinations when deprived of light for long periods as the brain seeks to fill in the missing stimuli. Do discuss the symptoms with your doctor.


  • glassmind
    2 days ago

    I also get visual aura with closed eyes. I call them visual hallucinations.

    They are very disturbing and are typically worse if my vertigo is also worse. I find slowly moving my eyes to the extremes in all directions with them closed can alleviate the phenomenon though it temporarily increases the head pain.

    Also being in a dark enough room that I can lay with my eyes open helps or keeping my eyes open while wearing an eye mask.

    Otherwise it’s just another symptom I have to wait out. As my vertigo diminishes with zofram the visual usual diminish also.

    Do share this symptom with your healthcare team. They may know a more effective therapy for you.


  • Michael1984 author
    1 day ago

    Thank you for the reply 🙂

    I recently noticed some mild symptoms of aura during the day as well, which actually became more prominent after I went to the opticians for an eye check and they shined their lights in my eyes! Definitely won’t be doing that again!

    I still get much worse more prominent auras when my eyes are shut though, I’ve noticed the ‘wavy vision’ I have is often more prominent after I’ve first opened my eyes as well, but quickly fades. Strange, not sure what’s causing everything to be more active when my eyes are shut!

    I’m not actually sure if I’d get them if I sat in a dark room or not? I know that if I open my eyes whilst having one and it’s dark I can still see it, but with the light on it goes…

    I’ll try the eye moving trick, thanks for that!! I have almost managed to ‘phase out’ or something so I can get to sleep without seeing them, I think it probably involves looking up or something as well though.

    I don’t think I get vertigo, well, I get really lightheaded/dizzy when lying in bed sometimes, but I haven’t experienced it whilst waking. Think something about being relaxed or without light heightens my symptoms, which is strange seeing as light seems to have literally caused all of them (well, that and stress and possibly very tense neck muscles).

    I’ve also only ever had one migraine headache, which caused all of this, think that probably makes me a bit unlucky haha.

    I’ll have to look into zofram as well, maybe it’d help in some way?? Are there any bad side-effects?


  • Luna
    7 days ago

    I am more likely to see aura activity with my eyes closed when trying to rest during the day or evening. That can be daily. I am used to a lot of weird stuff happening since having migraine at least 70 years. They have gone through many stages.

  • Michael1984 author
    3 days ago

    Thank you for the information, I’ll have a look at them properly.

    I’ve certainly had more than just the auras affecting me, but only had one headache migraine which I think was retinal.

    I think stress and anxiety are definitely a trigger of mine, or at least probably exarcebate some symptoms mildly, but I haven’t noticed anything else actually changing my symptoms, apart from bright light, which seems to be common.

    I think light in general has actually been the main trigger of all of my migraine related symptoms. The first scintillating scotoma happened in front of a bright monitor (the next was actually at night), and then I had the retinal migraine the night following an opticians appointment with their bright lights shining in my eyes, and stupidly had another opticians appointment about 3 weeks later where the day after I noticed the very slight aura I have in the day is now more prominent.

    I also get palipnosia where after images (especially bright lights) stay longer than they used to.

    Not really sure what to do about all of this as I’m now kind of afraid of any bright lights/screens!

    Is there a way to calm my brain down as it seems to be in overdrive, or at least the light/noise processing part does (I also have tinnitus)?

    Do you have the same problem with bright light and cope with it in anyway?

    Thanks a lot for your help.

  • Michael1984 author
    5 days ago

    Hi @Luna
    That’s interesting! You’re the first person I’ve seen mentioning experiencing auras with your eyes closed.
    – Any ideas why you get them when your eyes are closed?
    – What sort of auras have you seen?
    – And do you get any other visual symptoms during the day that don’t seem migraine related?

    I’ve been getting them for 2 weeks now and it has been making sleeping pretty difficult at times, like I’m watching my own personal horror film as it’s always dark veiny patterns, or ominous floaty shapes or a variety of static like patterns.

    I also occasionally see static in patterns and lines, mostly after I’ve been staring at a computer screen for a while…

  • Luna
    4 days ago

    Don’t know why, it just is my personal light show. My sister has them also. Your description sounds similar to mine. Mine also just ebbs and flows into different mostly dark colors and shapes. Occasionally I get a really bright white light and have to open my eyes to get rid of it as it is painful. I get other visuals day or night but think nothing of them since they have been around for some time. Very occasionally I have a scintillating scotoma.
    Stress, panic, anxiety a feeling of impending doom is all a part of migraine. When those come on I use distraction techniques. If I need to be sleeping I use music.

    Check out these two website. The more information you have the better you understand what your body is doing. Remember that migraine with aura can be with or without head pain.

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 weeks ago

    I think I misunderstood your question. Sorry about that. I have vestibular migraine, so I feel dizzy a lot. I have nerve damage in my right ear. So that is probably why I feel dizzy/nauseous sometimes even if my eyes are closed. For me, this is not an aura.

    I hope that makes better sense. Are you having auras?
    ~ Peggy ( team)

  • Michael1984 author
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Peggy,

    Yes, I’ve been seeing auras everytime I close my eyes for 12 days now. It is quite disturbing and I am hoping to find an answer for it as sleeping actually scares me. Couldn’t sleep more than an hour at a time last night either and every time I woke up my head was actually vibrating.
    I finally woke to an aura I could see when my eyes were open and it made the whole room blurred with these electric lines, this lasted about a minute.

    If you know of anyone I can contact or go and see or speak to about this I would be very very grateful.

    I went to the doctors yesterday, she just gave me a betablocker called propranolol to take and said come back in 2 weeks if it’s still happening. I’m mostly worried about why it might be happening constantly though. She did agree with me that it didn’t sound the same as regular migraine auras, though wouldn’t refer me to anyone else.

    It’s not fun 🙁

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    1 week ago

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with these disturbing visual auras. I can imagine how concerned you must be. You were right to see a doctor, but if the auras continue, you might want to find a neurologist or headache specialist. I really hope things change for the better soon!
    ~ Peggy ( team)

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Michael1984,

    I can hear how concerned you are about this and thank you for reaching out to us.

    It’s not uncommon to have different types of visual aura. Some visual aura’s can include white or black dots, zig zag and wavy lines, flashing lights, blind spots, halos and more.

    Good job on speaking with the doctor to make sure everything checks out. Tinnitus can be a common migraine attack symptom, which you can read more about here;

    Something to keep in mind when starting new medications is potential side effects don’t happen to everyone. In fact, many people take medications without any issues. If you are concerned about potential side effects, I would encourage you to speak with your pharmacist. Diclofenac is a NSAID, non-steroidal inflammatory, and I’m not sure what buccastem is.

    Keeping a detailed migraine diary is always a good idea so you identify any triggers and/or patterns your migraine attacks may have. This can be shared with the doctor as well. This link has information on how to keep a migraine diary;

    I hope this helps!

  • Michael1984 author
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you, Nancy.

    The diary is a good idea, I’ve been thinking about doing something like that. I think my sleeping habits might be the biggest trigger at the moment. Between the auras every single time I close my eyes for like a week now and the tinnitus I have recently gotten also, sleeping doesn’t always go too well! It will be interesting to see if anything else is affecting me though 🙂

    I also realise that there are lots of different types of auras, it’s just that the documentation I have read on them suggest they last 30 minutes and it appears to be a phenomenon that occurs when your eyes are open (which was the case with the electric scintillating scotoma I first experienced a few weeks ago.

    Whereas, I have been seeing them with my eyes closed for at least 5 nights in the past 9 (I am unsure about the other 4 as sometimes I’m so tired that I manage to fall asleep before they start to appear.

    I’ve got another doctors appointment tomorrow morning though, so perhaps he’ll be able to clarify if this is normal or not. I’ve just been trying to find it writen somewhere or to hear from someone else who has had the same (or similar) experience, but haven’t managed to as of yet.

    Thanks again for the reply 🙂

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi @Michael1984! For me the only time I visualize migraine with my eyes closed are with symptoms of dizziness and nausea. I don’t know how common this is, but maybe someone in our community has more experience with this. ~ Peggy ( team)

  • Michael1984 author
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Peggy,

    Are you saying you see auras when you close your eyes? As opposed to when they’re open?

    Or that you get nausea/dizziness when your eyes are closed?

    Sorry, I think I’m being a bit slow!

    Thank you for the reply 🙂

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