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Scintillation Seeing Sparks

Discussion in 'Neurological/Neuro-sensory' started by Forbin, May 15, 2010.

  1. Forbin

    Forbin Forbin

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    Scintillation Seeing Sparks

    I imagine that this is a very benign symptom, if it is a symptom at all, but it is something which I only first noticed in days immediately following my sudden onset of CFS symptoms back in 1983.

    It is well described in this paragraph at HealthGuidance.org

    If you stare at a brightly lit sheet of white paper or at a clear, bright blue sky for a while, you might see luminous points or spots of light darting around in front of you, just out of reach. Sometimes these spots appear as very bright circles with darker centers. They often appear to have tails, like comets.

    While no one is absolutely certain what it is you are seeing, the general consensus is that you are watching your own blood cells moving through the capillaries in your retina.


    Now, it seems that some perfectly healthy people experience this, but it does strike me as odd that I should only notice this for the first time just days after the onset of CFS. Of course, noticing it might be chalked up to hyper-vigilance in the wake of onset (although, as a photographer, Im sure I would have noticed something like this before) or it might be a side-effect of an increased sensitivity to light, which I certainly had after onset.

    Im just curious if any one else first noticed such a scintillation effect only after they became ill.

    Thanks,

    Forbin

    [P.S. This should not be confused with seeing the occasional, single, bright spark, which is, apparently, a benign feature of middle-age having to do with the aging of the retina. Its also not the same as the visual aura that can precede a migraine.]
     
  2. spindrift

    spindrift Plays With Voodoo Dollies

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    Forbin,

    I see them all the time. Wenn I put on my g-siut (lower body compression garment, long story, if you are interested
    there is a thread on it called 'life upright' which I started) and put pressure on it I get more blood flow in the brain
    and the little "floaters" as my doc calls them almost all go away.I have had this on and off even as child. CFS runs
    in my family though and I have had mild symptoms my whole life without realizing it until it was so bad that I could
    not function anymore.
     
  3. Mithriel

    Mithriel Senior Member

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    This could be one of those symptoms where it sounds as if it is common but what we are getting is different.

    When I had pre eclampsia when I was pregnant I got sudden episodes where it was as if I was in the middle of a snow globe - very pretty actually. It is caused by high blood pressure pressing on the optic nerve and is a danger sign. If what you are seeing is happening often it would be worth going to a doctor or someone to get your blood pressure checked.

    Nerves can only carry the message they are designed for so while a random nerve firing will give a twitch in a muscle, in your ear you will hear a noise and in your eye you will see a flash of light.

    The most likely thing is that your nerves were disturbed when you first had ME.

    Mithriel
     
  4. pollycbr125

    pollycbr125 Senior Member

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    i get the snowstorm thing going on very disorientating though the optition told me they were eye migraines and nothing to worry about . its not painful or anything just disorientating , i do get full blown migraines too there a different story , very painful and full blown disco light effect even with my eyes shut .

    bit confused now as i was told it was nothing to worry about . i had migraines once a blue moon before becoming ill but i did not suffer with the eye migraines before getting me/cfs :worried:
     
  5. Mithriel

    Mithriel Senior Member

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    Eye migraines is probably as good a name as any. :Retro smile:

    I didn't mean to worry you at all. Even when it happened during pregnancy nothing much was done, HBP is just something to bear in mind if it starts happening all the time.

    There are a lot of these strange little things that are most likely due to disturbance of brain function - hence the "migraine" diagnosis. My friends with MS get these sorts of things as well.

    hope you are as well as possible, hugs

    Mithriel
     
  6. HopingSince88

    HopingSince88 Senior Member

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    Forbin,
    You have perfectly described the effect I get whenever I exert myself too much. The first time it happened to me was shortly after my acute onset. I had gained about 50 lbs in 3 months and had joined a gym to try to work off the weight. The exercise specialist had me sit on an exercise bicycle and asked me to peddle, increasing my speed until I achieved a certain heart rate (the threshold of aerobic). This exercise set off the floaters. I had described them as looking like dozens of sperm floating around. I also do get them when I go outside after a fresh fallen new snow and it is too bright out with all the reflection. Since I know which situations cause this symptom, I just avoid them.
     
  7. Forbin

    Forbin Forbin

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the responses, everyone!

    Technically, “floaters” are little bits of material that float in the fluid of the eye. They are seen when they cast a shadow on the retina and they look like a little irregular dark blobs or a knots of thread.

    An "ocular (or ophthalmic) migraine" is a migraine “aura” that seems to be produced in the brain and can be experienced as an expanding crescent shaped blind spot made up of shimmering triangles in a sort of zig-zag pattern. It takes about hour to an hour until the crescent expands out of the visual field. It is painless but it can be followed by a migraine headache. This effect is also called a “scintillating scotoma.” I’ve experienced this about a dozen times in the last 20 years without any following migraine.

    A retinal migraine (confusingly also sometimes called an “ocular migraine”) is a more serious condition resulting repeated short term diminished vision or blindness in one eye prior to a migraine.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ocular-migraine/an01681

    Flashes of light and sparks may also be signs of a detached retina.

    The “scintillation” effect I was describing is actually none of these. As HopingSince88 describes it, the “sparks” look like tiny luminous sperm cells - or virtual particles in a physics experiment - that come into existence, move a slight distance, and then vanish in a fraction of a second. They have short “tails” or “trails.” Some people can see them if they look at a bright neutral background, like white snow, the sky, or a blank piece of paper in bright light. They are numerous and might be possibly be the same as the “snow globe” effect described in posts above. Under the right conditions (which I try to avoid), I can see them continuously.

    They are apparently also sometimes seen as a transitory effect of low blood pressure, which could explain why they are reduced by a g-suit.

    My personal speculation is that CFS may reduce blood flow to the capillaries of the brain even if you have normal blood pressure and that this perception of “scintillation” might be a sign of that. I believe I saw Dr. Bell describe in a recent lecture how some CFS patients have a reduced blood volume which he attributed to a constriction of the capillaries (possibly in response to an infection). If that sort of capillary constriction happened in the brain, it might well reduce the oxygen flow and that might explain a lot of symptoms.

    [Please forgive me when I go off and speculate like this:Retro smile:.]

    Forbin
     
  8. pollycbr125

    pollycbr125 Senior Member

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    from what you have described i have eye scintilation rather than eye migraine . its only ever my left eye too which is my weaker eye im a bit short sighted in that eye which has got worse since getting me/cfs . Also when i get a proper migraine it is always above my left eye that it starts though on odd occasions since getting this i have been unfortunate to have a migraine start over both eyes . I have a red dot behind my left eye that has been investigated but they dont know what it is . this all just gets weirder and weirder .

    forbin i dont mind you going off and speculating lol its nice to be more informed than fobbed of by docs and optitions lol :thumbsup:
     

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