Ocular migraine

Today I experienced what I think is my first ever clear-cut case of an ocular migraine. It is normal sometimes for there to be a little flicker in one’s vision. My understanding is that this has to do with the fact that the eye requires a large amount of oxygen, and hence blood flow, to function. Momentary disruptions to the blood supply can result in occasional flickers, lights, or strange artifacts in vision (at one point a long time ago I even wondered if maybe they were spirits or ghosts).

But today something different happened. I experienced what initially seemed to be a normal momentary flicker, but then it didn’t just go away right away. It persisted. What was also weird was the size and shape of it. Unlike normal flickers this had a distinct zigzag shape and it just remained in one part of the field of vision of my left eye.

artist’s depiction of ocular migraine that I found on the web

This zigzag shape just flickered constantly and it was really weird. I went into the hallway of my building, which has white walls, to take out recycling and as I was walking the length of the hallway I was able to really see the zigzag pattern and the flickering clearly.

I was worried that maybe I was experiencing retinal detachment, but after reading about it online, it turns out that it was only what is called an ocular migraine.

Among other things, the above article states that an ocular migraine can be triggered by perfumes or strong odors. All day yesterday there was this strong odor in my bathroom that was really irritating me and causing my nose to run. Last week something similar happened when I had used a sample packet of a hair masque treatment. The empty packet was still laying next to the bathtub and there was still some residue of product in it. It turned out that a fragrance in the masque was seriously irritating to me.

Yesterday I couldn’t find what was causing the odor. I thought that perhaps a tenant in another unit in my apartment building had dumped something down their drain which was causing the odor to come up through the pipes. I ran cold water in my bathtub for a long time but the odor was still there.

Then, later I was searching more and it turned out that a plastic bottle of a foot scrub which had been given to me by someone at a nail salon was the cause. The fragrance in the foot scrub – which was sitting in that bottle for over 5 years unused – was literally leeching out through the plastic!

I immediately dumped it out and aired out my apartment. But I’m guessing the exposure and the residual odor was enough to invoke the ocular migraine.

Today was the first morning in a long time that I did not wake up and immediately start coughing due to my nose running and mucous draining down the back of my throat.

It’s interesting that I’ve never had an ocular migraine before in my life, at least not that was clearly recognized by me as such.