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Eye and Vision Care

Black spot when I blink

08/24/2006

Question:

For about a month or so, whenever I blink or look from something light to something dark, I see what looks like a sunspot in my vision. I have always had floaters and it doesn`t look like they`ve increased. I`ve been under a lot of stress lately as well; the spot appeared a week or so after my anxiety started. I went to the doctor, who said nothing looked abnormal in my eye, but said I should go to an opthomologist anyway to see what they say. I have NOT had any other symptoms related to retinal detachment, just the spot. I only see the spot in my right eye, although there seems to be a very tiny one in my left eye now. I plan to go to the eye doctor no matter what`s said here, but I think I`m just looking for some facts. Thanks.

Answer:

I agree that you should seek additional care if you're not satisfied with the explanation you've received so far.

If you are under a lot of stress, you may have experienced an ocular migraine. It's also known as acephalic, ophthalmic, or retinal migraine. There are subtle differences among these, but eye doctors tend to interchange these terms. Stress is the biggest trigger for these, just as it is for classic or common migraines. The differences in these episodes is that one may view light flashes, jagged arcs of light, or "snow vision" (like poor tv reception) that tends to start in the line of sight or peripheral vision and works its way opposite of where it started. It will typically cover one side or area of the vision and lasts for 5-30 minutes. It then recedes in the same pattern it starts. There is no headache or eye pain associated with these episodes. They are thought to come from brief blood vessel spasms in the occipital (visual area of cortex) lobe. These spasms are temporary and have no lasting side effects.

Triggers for ocular migraines are stress, caffeine, nutrasweet, chocolate, wine (preservatives), aged cheeses, prepared meats such as cold cuts or weiners (preservatives), MSG, cashews, or bacon (preservatives). Take an inventory of your consumption of these items to see if you are putting yourself at greater risk for experiencing an event.

Also be aware of side effects from any new medications, vitamins, or supplements that you may have started taking recently. You should divulge any and all medications (prescribed or OTC) that you are taking when you see your eye doctor.

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Response by:

Cynthia Gale Heard, OD Cynthia Gale Heard, OD
Formerly
Assistant Professor, Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University