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Eye and Vision Care

Black circle in vision

06/30/2009

Question:

My 8 year old wears glasses for long sightedness. At times, she has a large black circle, surrounded by green jagged edges in her vision. She has drawn what it looks like and we are interested to get some feed back as to what might be causing it and whether we need to be concerned. Her eye specialist cannot find anything wrong and feels our child is making it up.Do we need a second opinion?

Answer:

The visual phenomenon that your child is describing matches the most common description of an ocular migraine or the visual aura of a common migraine. This typically appears as a black or gray half circle that blocks half the visual field in both eyes (i.e., on the left side or right side in BOTH eyes). The half circle classicallly has serrated or zagged outside edges. Typically this starts as a smaller circle that expands over a 20-40 minute period. It may or may not be followed by a headache. There should be no persistent vision loss after the incident so normal findings on an eye exam would be expected. These visual changes due to migraines are not uncommon in children.

Still, a migraine is a diagnosis of exclusion. You should talk to your child's pediatrician to determine whether any testing is warranted at this time.

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Response by:

Michael  Earley, OD, PhD, FAAO Michael Earley, OD, PhD, FAAO
Assistant Dean for Clinical Services
Professor of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University