Yes, that really happened to me.
I am writing this post not for our regular audience, but as a contribution to the global hive mind, accessed via Google and others. It helped me and I owe it this.
On 9/11/2011 I rose from a crouch while taking a photo and got what felt like a blast of bright light in my left eye. It was as if I had accidentally popped my camera’s flash in my own face. Startled, I waited about 20 seconds for my eye to clear.
I was rattled for the rest of the day, and of course, told no one about it. Especially my wife.
A couple days later I was leaning over on a photo shoot and the same thing happened. Then a few days later, it happened again as I was leaning over my fish pond.
Concerned that I might have a detached retina — a medical emergency– I saw an eye doctor who checked me out thoroughly and said my eye was in fine physical shape.
For about ten years, I’ve had ocular migraines a couple times a year. They don’t hurt, they just produce a temporary light show in one or both eyes that lasts about 20 minutes. For me, it’s a twinkling pulse in my left eye. It is a brain generated event — I can cover my eye but the show goes on.
Knowing that, I started Googling migraines and was surprised to learn that bending over was a migraine trigger. One link led to another and I found someone with my symptoms:
I have never been an experiencer of migraines. Â Out of the blue I’ll
now Â occasionally bend over to pick something up, and I’ll feel a bit
of a head rush sensation. Â I’ll feel pressure in my eyes and get sort
of star bursts in my left eye (always the left) Â Within a few moments,
my vision in that eye will go completely grey (as though looking
through a curtain – totally blind except for perhaps a brighter area
if I look directly at a strong light source. Â Within 5-15 minutes,
vision slowly returns. Â Initially in patchy grey scale, and eventually
colours come back and all is totally normal. Â No pain through any of
I tried emailing the guy to see what he’d learned, but his address was dead. Was he? I wondered.
One morning I started seeing a bright halo around things, reminiscent of what migraine sufferers describe before they get slammed with a monster headache.
This went on for a couple of hours and then I sneezed. This time my left eye went completely black and didn’t clear up quickly. After 15 minutes I got my son to drive me back to the eye doc. Again, there was nothing for him to see. About an hour later, my vision cleared up.
Eventually I had a name for my condition, “Recurrent Transient Monocular Blindness” and that led to Amaurosis fugax. Doctor Wiki warned that I could be at risk for stroke.
So it was off to a neurologist and MRIs of the brain, carotid artery, a heart test etc. Everything turned up clean. Meanwhile the condition had become chronic. but milder: I’d tie my shoes and I’d get a fuzzy eye for five seconds.
The neurologist concluded there was probably a microscopic something interfering with the blood flow to the optic nerve and there was nothing more to do. By then I’d accepted the fact that it was something I’d have to live with — no big deal considering health issues others live with.
It was near the end of October. My wife and I went on a long weekend to central California. We hiked, took photos etc. I had no symptoms the entire time.
When we returned, the condition was gone. As suddenly as it came, it went. How or why no one knows. (And if you’ve read this far, you might be thinking, “And no one cares.”)
If this happens to you, I hope this account helps.