Painless Migraine with Aura

For several years I’ve experienced an occasional loss of a portion of my field of vision for a brief period. Kind of like the picture with the lower right side just going away. I can cover either eye but the effect is the same. The first time I noticed it I was driving thru the mountains and saw a speed limit sign that said “7” followed by a sign that said ” Wa For F Ro”. After a while my vision cleared and I chose to ignore it. Several months later I noticed the same thing when I stopped at a Starb Coff. Like the other times if I covered either eye the phenomena was unchanged. It always goes away after about 45 minutes.

I didn’t go to a doctor cause I was afraid they’d tell me I was going blind or having a stroke or going crazy – whatever it was, it wasn’t gonna be good. They weren’t gonna tell me it meant I was getting younger or taller or smarter. My internet searches proved fruitless too – until I tried the word “aura” and came up with Painless Migraine with Aura or Silent Migraine. Because there’s never any pain I hadn’t thought of that. From what I’ve read here about 15% of migraine sufferers experience visual aura immediately prior to the onset of pain, and an unknown number only experience the aura without getting headache pain.

Occasionally rather than the loss of perception, there are pinwheeling flashing lights, which they call the kaleidoscope effect. It’s happened to me a couple times, and it’s hard to stay rational when whatever you look at has spinning flashing lights in the middle. So finding out the cause a few months back was a big weight off my shoulders. It only happens two or three times a year so I count my blessings. I figured I’d put something up for any people who also have experienced this and wondered what the hell was going on. The link tells a little about treatment and touches on how it’s often misdiagnosed.

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Posted by on May 26, 2010. Filed under Advice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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22 Responses to Painless Migraine with Aura

  1. MadMike

    May 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Have you been checked for diabetes my friend?

    • osori

      May 26, 2010 at 10:50 pm

      I’m not sure, Mike.I had a lot of blood tests about 3 years ago for cholesterol and triglycerides and stuff like that-but don’t know if that included a diabetes test. Is that among the symptoms?

      • MadMike

        May 27, 2010 at 1:03 am

        Yes. That is one of the symptoms. Tell your doctor you want a complete blood glucose/fasting diabetes check thing.

  2. The Lawyer

    May 26, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    That’s curious. I’ve had this issue without the pain.

    • osori

      May 26, 2010 at 11:15 pm

      Collin, from what I’d read it affects males more than females and can occur later in life. I’ve never had pain as well, just the visual symptoms which go away after around 40 minutes.

      My own feeling is that it tends to affect good-looking people but there may be bias involved.

      • MadMike

        May 27, 2010 at 1:04 am

        Well if it only affects good looking people I am in a lot of trouble 🙂

  3. Gwendolyn H. Barry

    May 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Oso, have you considered homeopathy remedies to companion whatever allopathic (regular medicines) have been suggested? You in San Fran? Go see Lisa at Scarlet Sage Herb Co. on Valencia. She might help you out more than you expect!

  4. rockync

    May 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I have had migraines since I was a child – unfortunately, the painful ones. Visual auras are pretty standard with mine. I don’t lose my peripheral vision but it becomes distorted and I see tiny pinpoint light bursts. Once I am in its grip, light and smells will contribute to my misery.
    They have gotten better with age, biofeedback training and meditation. When I can’t drive them back those ways, then I reach for medication.
    Yes, the type you are describing affect mostly males in later years but I agree with Mike, this could be a symptom of a number of conditions and ignoring it does not make the underlying problem go away. So a trip to the doctor to confirm your suspicions is in order, Oso and you too, Lawyer.

  5. Randal Graves

    May 27, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Good thing Hussein X’s Forced Socialist Health Care isn’t in place, or you’d already be dead!

    Ever think your problem might come from reading too much wingnuttery?

  6. Leslie Parsley

    May 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I’ve been misdiagnosed with migrains for over 40 years – since my early 20s. The pain would last for days and hospital stays of up to five days. The pain was/is excrutiating – to the point that I’d beg anyone to take an ax to my neck. It was like someone taking a very sharp knife and twisting it up the right back side of my head. A second would quickly follow and my body would jerk with each one. Nothing worked – would have to get shots that knocked me out to get any relief but the pain always returned. Rarely did I have an aura or flashing lights.

    About three years ago, my new doctor diagnosed occipital neuralgia where the occipital nerves grip the muscles like a vice. Medications don’t help and forget ice packs. My mother had the same thing and would use a hot water bottle, not a heating pad, which is the only thing that works. It may take a few hours but it’s nothing like it used to be.

    I’m also diabetic and agree with Mike’s advice to have a fasting blood sugar test since you don’t have pain. Oh, and maybe quit following female joggers?

  7. MArie Richardson

    June 15, 2010 at 1:54 am

    I get painless migraines. They last about 60 mnutes untreated. I have areas of blocked vision and diagonal lines that I have described as a south western pattern. Interesting enough I tend to get them when I start drinking more diet coke.also interesting is that it goes away of I take 2 Tylenol and 2 ibuprofen.

    • Christian

      October 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Me too! I am 33 yrs. old and was diagnosed with migraines with aura 9 years ago after having above mentioned symptoms. I have learned to deal with the ha’s with NSAID’s and rest. But I as you have noticed increase in HA occurrence when I drink diet soda(aspartame) I can taste the aspartame on the roof of my mouth even when I’m not drinking it.

  8. Mother Hen

    June 15, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Painless migraines? Why do guys get all the luck? IMHO you haven’t had a migraine until you have begged someone to shoot you to make the agony stop. Seriously, I’ve never kept guns in my house for that very reason. There is no pain like it. Not even childbirth (which I do naturally so yes my pain threshold is very high)

    I’ve been getting them since I was 2 years old. My mother said there would be a “blue triangle” of veins on my forehead. Never had an “aura”, but the headache would come on like someone was nailing a railroad spike in through the back of my neck and out through my eye, reaching a crescendo of suffering that only began to recede after throwing up.

    If I eat foods I am sensitive to (shellfish seems to be a culprit) it can bring one on. I’ve kept a food diary to attempt to figure out th4 trigger foods. Even complete abstinence from suspicious foods didn’t stop them.

    Confinement to a dark room with a bucket (took excedrin which sometimes worked caught early enough) was my only recourse until I got on Maxalt. It was like a magic bullet. Not only does the pain go away (about 1/2 hour) but it is like it was never there. No puking, grogginess, disorientation. They cost about $9 each WITH insurance. Worth every penny.

  9. Napia

    December 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Just had one migraine/w aura and no pain last night while I was at Kmart. I get them about twice a year or so. I’ve been having them infrequently for years but never really knew what they were. Fortunately I had one fairly close to an upcoming eye exam one time and remembered to ask the doc about it. He said very nonchalantely “Oh…you’re having a painless migrain.”

    He said they were almost always harmless and not to worry about it unless the frequency intensified and/or I started getting pain with them.

    I went home and looked it up and haven’t worried about them sense.

    In fact, now that I know what they are, I just close my eyes and enjoy the “light” show.

    Mine only lasts for about 15 minutes although I had back-to- back episodes once. That was kinda scarey cause it crossed my mind “What if I keep having these things over and over and over?” But after that second one, I didn’t have another one for a really long time.

    I used to think that somehow working at the computer triggred these things. However I’ve now had several where that wasn’t the case. The one before this one at Kmart happened as I was waking up one morning and just laying in bed looking at nothing in particular. So clearly, staring at a computer screen is either not the trigger or if it is, it’s not the ONLY trigger.

    Eh…whatever. As long as it doesn’t get worse, I’m ok with them and call me crazy, but I think they’re kinda neat.

  10. Napia

    December 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    This is a fairly good represenation of what mine look like.

    Starts off as a dot in my field of vision. It gradually turns into a cycle shape, get bigger and bigger as it slowly moved off to the left and eventually out of my range of vision.

  11. Christa

    September 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I actually get both kinds, the pain with aura and the painless with aura – at different times. I am not sure which is worse. The one where I am puking from the pain, and have to be rushed to the hospital for that shot. . . or the one where I feel I am going insane because my eyes are acting strange, and my entire body starts to react. . .

    Also, I’m 23 and a female.

  12. Mike

    April 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    My ophthalmologist recommended a strong cup of coffee. I gotten 1 or 2 per year for the last 8 years. My family doctor has run many tests with no negative results. I know it sounds strange, but for me it works.

  13. minki whu

    June 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm


  14. Julie

    October 9, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I too have experienced these painless migraines, but only when pregnant and lasting just a few minutes. I never experienced them at any other time. A brain surgeon explained exactly what it was – migraine without the pain. One of those crazy hormonal things that happen when pregnant.

  15. Katie

    November 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I’ve had a handful of these a year for the past 5 or 6 years. Finally got fed up with them a couple years back and asked my optometrist, who told me to ask my doctor, who sent me to a neurologist. I forget the fancy scientific term for these, but the more common one that stuck was an atypical migraine.

    I’ve not been able to identify any triggers (not food, not stress, not sleep deprivation). Occasionally, I’ve also had the fingers on one hand go numb or, just twice, the language center of my brain has shut off.

    The neurologist said that the symptoms are similar to those of stroke, which is always great to hear, and that there is no medication, unless I wanted to go on a blood-thinner meant for something else that I would have to take for the rest of my life. No, thank you. You’re so helpful, science.

  16. Ethelyn Rowlett

    May 2, 2013 at 5:43 am

    All forms of diabetes have been treatable since insulin became available in 1921, and type 2 diabetes may be controlled with medications. Insulin and some oral medications can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugars), which can be dangerous if severe. Both types 1 and 2 are chronic conditions that cannot be cured. Pancreas transplants have been tried with limited success in type 1 DM; gastric bypass surgery has been successful in many with morbid obesity and type 2 DM. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after delivery.-^