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I'm seeing jagged lines in my vision, what is it?

Ocular Migraine

Have you ever seen a temporary black spot in your vision?  How about jagged white lines?  Something that looks like heat waves shimmering in your peripheral vision?

If you have, you may have been experiencing what is known as an ocular migraine. Ocular migraines occur when blood vessels spasm in the visual center of the brain (the occipital lobe) or the retina.

They can take on several different symptoms but typically last from a few minutes to an hour.  They can take on either positive or negative visual symptoms meaning they can produce what looks like a black blocked out area in your vision (negative symptom) or they can produce visual symptoms that you see but know aren’t really there like heat waves or jagged white lines that look almost like lightning streaks (positive symptoms).

Some people do get a headache after the visual symptoms but most people do not.  They get the visual symptoms which resolve on their own in under an hour and then generally just feel slightly out of sorts after the episode but don’t get a significant headache. The majority of episodes last about 20 minutes but can go on for an hour.  The hallmark of this problem is that once the visual phenomenon resolves the vision returns completely back to normal with no residual change or defect.

If you have this happen for the first time it can be fairly scary and it is a good idea to have a thorough eye exam by your ophthalmologist or optometrist soon after the episode to be sure there is nothing else causing the problem.

There are other things besides an ocular migraine that can cause similar symptoms.  Flashing lights and new floating spots in your vision could be the sign of a retinal tear or detachment (see I'm seeing new floating spots in my vision, what should I do?).


Many people who get ocular migraines tend to have them occur in clusters.  They will get three or four episodes within a week and then may not have another one for several months or even years.

There are some characteristics that raise your risk for ocular migraines.  The biggest one is a personal history of having migraine headaches.  Having a family history of migraines also raises your risk as does a history of motion sickness.

Although the symptoms can cause a great deal of anxiety, especially on the first occurrence, ocular migraines rarely cause any long term problems and almost never require treatment as long as they are not accompanied by significant headaches.

So if symptoms like this suddenly occur in your vision try to remain calm, pull over if you are driving, and just wait for them to go away.  If they persist for longer than an hour, then you should seek immediate medical attention. For more on Ocular Migraine click on the video below.
View Video
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Comments 61

 
Dr. Wnorowski on Friday, 01 February 2019 17:38
triggers

Sometimes there are specific triggers for some people but often there is no rhyme or reason for when they occur. You may be able to find a correlation but often they are just random. If you think you have found a trigger then just try to alter your behavior so you don't trigger the event or at least decrease how often they happen.

Sometimes there are specific triggers for some people but often there is no rhyme or reason for when they occur. You may be able to find a correlation but often they are just random. If you think you have found a trigger then just try to alter your behavior so you don't trigger the event or at least decrease how often they happen.
Guest - Lindsay on Wednesday, 20 February 2019 19:23
Related Symptoms?

Wavy blurred lines entered my vision today for about an hour, accompanied by dizziness Followed by headache and nausea. I have also noticed recent sensitivity in the past two weeks to smells. I even broke out in a rash around my eyes from a peppermint extract that was not properly diluted at work in a diffuser. That was the outset of a downhill for my feeling of well being. I feel all this general ill feeling to various stimuli must be related. It is disheartening that there is not much to be done. Perhaps decreasing stress somehow will help.

Wavy blurred lines entered my vision today for about an hour, accompanied by dizziness Followed by headache and nausea. I have also noticed recent sensitivity in the past two weeks to smells. I even broke out in a rash around my eyes from a peppermint extract that was not properly diluted at work in a diffuser. That was the outset of a downhill for my feeling of well being. I feel all this general ill feeling to various stimuli must be related. It is disheartening that there is not much to be done. Perhaps decreasing stress somehow will help.
Guest - Jordan on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 15:57
Just had this happen 2 me 4 the 1st time ... I was reading & it was like te letters and pointer got stuck n te side of my eyes, i went into a panic it would not go away, took my blood pressure and took pills and water then i looked and found this. thank g

Just had this happen 2 me 4 the 1st time ... I was reading & it was like te letters and pointer got stuck n te side of my eyes, i went into a panic it would not go away, took my blood pressure and took pills and water then i looked and found this. thank god it happened just how this says lasted like exctaly 20 mins then i was fine, but i was reading on a big screen from a bad anfle when this happened, i wounder if that was the cause.

Just had this happen 2 me 4 the 1st time ... I was reading & it was like te letters and pointer got stuck n te side of my eyes, i went into a panic it would not go away, took my blood pressure and took pills and water then i looked and found this. thank god it happened just how this says lasted like exctaly 20 mins then i was fine, but i was reading on a big screen from a bad anfle when this happened, i wounder if that was the cause.
Dr. Wnorowski on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 16:08
Bad Angle

Not likely that the bad angle had anything to do with it. Just random event.

Not likely that the bad angle had anything to do with it. Just random event.
Guest - bonny on Friday, 15 March 2019 01:14
light

i was hit in the eye recently, and i have bruising around my eye and red in
my eye ball. I get a small light that goes down in a line and disappear around six times a day. what is that?

i was hit in the eye recently, and i have bruising around my eye and red in my eye ball. I get a small light that goes down in a line and disappear around six times a day. what is that?
Dr. Wnorowski on Friday, 15 March 2019 13:36
Hit in the eye

That does not sound like a Migraine. With a recent injury you need to be examined with a dilated retinal exam to make sure you don't have a torn or detached retina. Do it very soon.

That does not sound like a Migraine. With a recent injury you need to be examined with a dilated retinal exam to make sure you don't have a torn or detached retina. Do it very soon.
Guest - Ela on Friday, 22 March 2019 04:31
what is that ?

hello i will be really happy to know about my case , I have more than one year(when I was 8 months pregnant) that i was looking at those moving white flashes or stars in my vision, especially in to much light , in the sky or white things ,, im really worried because it never stops, so those moving things are always there , before 6 months I got my eyes checked and they told me everything was fine , they checked even for retinal detachment ,, but im still really worried what it is , my eyes stay like red and dry and sometimes itchy .. thank u

hello i will be really happy to know about my case , I have more than one year(when I was 8 months pregnant) that i was looking at those moving white flashes or stars in my vision, especially in to much light , in the sky or white things ,, im really worried because it never stops, so those moving things are always there , before 6 months I got my eyes checked and they told me everything was fine , they checked even for retinal detachment ,, but im still really worried what it is , my eyes stay like red and dry and sometimes itchy .. thank u
Dr. Wnorowski on Friday, 22 March 2019 09:51
What is that?

Sounds like you may have some floaters (https://www.shoreeye.com/news/blog/91-what-are-these-floaters-i-see). If you already had an exam for it and everything was normal that is good but if this keeps up you may want to get another opinion.

Sounds like you may have some floaters (https://www.shoreeye.com/news/blog/91-what-are-these-floaters-i-see). If you already had an exam for it and everything was normal that is good but if this keeps up you may want to get another opinion.
Guest - MT on Sunday, 21 April 2019 06:05
Jagged white lines and ringing noise in ears

Hi, I've been seeing jagged white lines in my vision center for the past 3 months continuously daily (24x7), it never stopped even for a single day or hour. I also hear ringing noise in my ears. Had mild headache few times, but not daily. Visited ophthalmologist and neurologist, they could not make out what is going on exactly. MRI testing results were normal. Currently taking medication amitriptyline prescribed by neurologist. These symptoms never stopped, though the intensity of jagged lines is reduced. Please let me know what could be causing this.

Hi, I've been seeing jagged white lines in my vision center for the past 3 months continuously daily (24x7), it never stopped even for a single day or hour. I also hear ringing noise in my ears. Had mild headache few times, but not daily. Visited ophthalmologist and neurologist, they could not make out what is going on exactly. MRI testing results were normal. Currently taking medication amitriptyline prescribed by neurologist. These symptoms never stopped, though the intensity of jagged lines is reduced. Please let me know what could be causing this.
Dr. Wnorowski on Sunday, 21 April 2019 14:09
Jagged lines and ringing ears

Hard to say. Best you can do is keep up with the follow-up appointments and prescribed medication and see what happens.

Hard to say. Best you can do is keep up with the follow-up appointments and prescribed medication and see what happens.
Guest - T. Wilson on Tuesday, 14 May 2019 13:43
With deep gratitude!

Thank you!!! This just happened to me @ work and freaked me out! It lasted about 15 minutes and then just disappeared. I am so grateful for you sharing out this information!

Thank you!!! This just happened to me @ work and freaked me out! It lasted about 15 minutes and then just disappeared. I am so grateful for you sharing out this information!
Dr. Wnorowski on Tuesday, 14 May 2019 14:39
gratitude

Glad we could help

Glad we could help
Guest - Jennifer on Monday, 20 May 2019 21:11
Headache

These for me happen every so often but differ in severity. I'll get a flash of sorts and one eye will have trouble focusing before the lines appear in one spot and stretch across the eye. For the more severe one I'll have dizziness and feel like my head is split open. The less severe, and more common one, is where I just have slight pain in my sinuses (forehead, above eyes, etc). With the less severe it seems to happen more when I haven't had much sleep and if I'm using the computer. Any idea what could be going in there?

These for me happen every so often but differ in severity. I'll get a flash of sorts and one eye will have trouble focusing before the lines appear in one spot and stretch across the eye. For the more severe one I'll have dizziness and feel like my head is split open. The less severe, and more common one, is where I just have slight pain in my sinuses (forehead, above eyes, etc). With the less severe it seems to happen more when I haven't had much sleep and if I'm using the computer. Any idea what could be going in there?
Dr. Wnorowski on Monday, 20 May 2019 21:16
Headache

Yes you have a very common scenario. Sometimes they are mild with just the visual stuff and sometimes they leave you feeling just a little bit "weird" with vague slight headache like symptoms and sometimes the ocular portion is just the warning sign that the full on migraine headache is coming. Stress is commonly a trigger. If you are getting the full blown migraine frequently you should talk with your medical doctor about potentially getting treatment for it.

Yes you have a very common scenario. Sometimes they are mild with just the visual stuff and sometimes they leave you feeling just a little bit "weird" with vague slight headache like symptoms and sometimes the ocular portion is just the warning sign that the full on migraine headache is coming. Stress is commonly a trigger. If you are getting the full blown migraine frequently you should talk with your medical doctor about potentially getting treatment for it.
Guest - MC on Saturday, 12 October 2019 01:33
Like eye floaters...

I’ve been having something like lines or eye floaters (blurred lines where the light looks diffused) in my vision for a few months now... optometrist didn’t see anything of any note, thought that there was a little hardening of the vitreous gel that was causing it. She said a little... bit there are about 15 or more of these blurred areas on each eye (more on the right eye). I also have two or three grey lines in my right eyes vision ..Had a tension headache for about 3 weeks off and on. Always have red eyes... well light pink and as the day progresses they get redder. Should I get a second opinion? Don’t know what to do but the lines freak me out

I’ve been having something like lines or eye floaters (blurred lines where the light looks diffused) in my vision for a few months now... optometrist didn’t see anything of any note, thought that there was a little hardening of the vitreous gel that was causing it. She said a little... bit there are about 15 or more of these blurred areas on each eye (more on the right eye). I also have two or three grey lines in my right eyes vision ..Had a tension headache for about 3 weeks off and on. Always have red eyes... well light pink and as the day progresses they get redder. Should I get a second opinion? Don’t know what to do but the lines freak me out
Dr. Wnorowski on Saturday, 12 October 2019 22:39
Eye Floaters

You should get another opinion. Your complaints aren't fitting into the typical Ocular migraine pattern.

You should get another opinion. Your complaints aren't fitting into the typical Ocular migraine pattern.
Guest - Keith Bailey on Thursday, 26 December 2019 09:30
Lightening flash

Just like a lightening flash burnt into my left eye, the first time i had this occur was whilst playing my ps4 but it was in both eyes back then, i turned the ps4 and the tv off and reclined in my chair, even with my eyes closed it was still imprinted in my eyes and stayed in the same place when moving my eyes.
Today Boxing Day, i awoke with the same flash but on a smaller scale and only in my left eye, i checked my blood pressure and it was 150 over 99, i checked again 15 minutes later, it was 149 over 97, normally i get high blood pressure only when i have a problem with my bowels, the lower bowel locks up where I can’t go to the toilet and the upper bowel wants to go and i begin to feel sick and everywhere starts going dark then at times i eventually black out for maybe a few minutes.
In the tear 2017, i had to have an operation on my stomach because of a perforated bowel, about 1 inch of perforation was cut out according to mr Abercrombie and sewn back together but it popped a couple of days later and i had to have a stoma bag put on, i had the stoma bag for about a year without any problem of blackouts then in 2018 i had the reversal done, i am on 2 docusate capsules 3 times a day to try and keep the motion soft so it comes away, 1 day i get constipation and have to use a suppository and without changing the intake of docusate capsules a few days later i get the runs, whilst i was sat on the toilet around 2 months ago everywhere started to go dark, i went back into my bedroom and laid on the bed, i took my blood pressure and it was 152 over 102, it came down after about 25 minutes.
This time i had no problem with my motion i have been going fine all week and yet i awoke with no headache just a lightening flash in my left eye, i looked at the time i had been asleep for 6 hours, i took my blood pressure and it was 150 over 99, my blood pressure only goes up on odd occasions so I can’t take blood pressure tablets nor know what can be causing it when i have been inactive over night.
Can high blood pressure cause the flash in my eyes ?.

Just like a lightening flash burnt into my left eye, the first time i had this occur was whilst playing my ps4 but it was in both eyes back then, i turned the ps4 and the tv off and reclined in my chair, even with my eyes closed it was still imprinted in my eyes and stayed in the same place when moving my eyes. Today Boxing Day, i awoke with the same flash but on a smaller scale and only in my left eye, i checked my blood pressure and it was 150 over 99, i checked again 15 minutes later, it was 149 over 97, normally i get high blood pressure only when i have a problem with my bowels, the lower bowel locks up where I can’t go to the toilet and the upper bowel wants to go and i begin to feel sick and everywhere starts going dark then at times i eventually black out for maybe a few minutes. In the tear 2017, i had to have an operation on my stomach because of a perforated bowel, about 1 inch of perforation was cut out according to mr Abercrombie and sewn back together but it popped a couple of days later and i had to have a stoma bag put on, i had the stoma bag for about a year without any problem of blackouts then in 2018 i had the reversal done, i am on 2 docusate capsules 3 times a day to try and keep the motion soft so it comes away, 1 day i get constipation and have to use a suppository and without changing the intake of docusate capsules a few days later i get the runs, whilst i was sat on the toilet around 2 months ago everywhere started to go dark, i went back into my bedroom and laid on the bed, i took my blood pressure and it was 152 over 102, it came down after about 25 minutes. This time i had no problem with my motion i have been going fine all week and yet i awoke with no headache just a lightening flash in my left eye, i looked at the time i had been asleep for 6 hours, i took my blood pressure and it was 150 over 99, my blood pressure only goes up on odd occasions so I can’t take blood pressure tablets nor know what can be causing it when i have been inactive over night. Can high blood pressure cause the flash in my eyes ?.
Dr. Wnorowski on Thursday, 26 December 2019 15:05
High blood pressure

Anything stressful, include high blood pressure MIGHT set off a few ocular Migraines.

Anything stressful, include high blood pressure MIGHT set off a few ocular Migraines.
Guest - Fran on Monday, 13 January 2020 23:27
New syptom

just in my left eye when I look at a word the letters start to move like a worm moving. I do have ocular migraines but this is new. Side affect?

just in my left eye when I look at a word the letters start to move like a worm moving. I do have ocular migraines but this is new. Side affect?
Dr. Wnorowski on Monday, 13 January 2020 23:32
worm

Probably just a new way it is presenting itself BUT it has to go away in under an hour. If it doesn't you need to see an ophthalmologist.

Probably just a new way it is presenting itself BUT it has to go away in under an hour. If it doesn't you need to see an ophthalmologist.
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