Kaleidoscope vision is a symptom of an ocular migraine, which makes the brain create an illusion of fractured or broken objectives, usually brightly and vividly colored.
A series of sensory processing disorder is called a migraine aura which, unlike an ocular migraine, may affect both of your eyes. A migraine aura is the result of a brain magnetic resonance imaging in the occipital lobe of the cerebral cortex. It generally lasts up to 30 min.
Not only does aura affect all or part of your visual field, but also interrupt other senses, such as hearing or touch. Kaleidoscope vision in turn can be caused by much worse conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), stroke and retinal deceases.
Ocular migraine and migraine aura worsen vision, followed by symptoms like flickering lights, blind spots in vision, sudden flashes of lights and other patterns.
This stage affects more than just the pivotal point of your vision, so the article will reveal info about the causes of kaleidoscope vision and how to treat it.
What’s wrong with my eyes?
Kaleidoscopic vision is a type of metamorphopsia when straight lines and objectives in your visual field appear corrugated and curved.
However, these are not the only distortions caused by visual migraine auras. Senses like touch or smell may also be affected.
If you suffer from kaleidoscopic vision, swirling bright colours are common to outside the point of fixation of your eye where they move chaotically. Some people may have attacks of dizziness, headaches while others don’t feel anything.
The distorted size of an image usually occurs in both eyes at the same time. However, if the image appears separately, and partially affects the vision field, it signals that occipital lobes are now involved in visual processing, and not just your organ of sight. Most likely, an ocular migraine is coming along your way.
Migraine auras can be caused by more serious conditions, like a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or even a stroke, when blood flow to the brain is disrupted and may lead to death. Therefore, if you routinely experience visual migraines, then it’s highly recommended to visit an ophthalmologist for further medical advise.
Visual Auras and its Types
Positive Visual Phenomena
The most common factor for the phenomena is adding objects to your visual field. These include:
- Scintillating scotoma: a positive part of the scotoma, where a patient may see flickering lights and black zigzag lines. The process usually takes up to 20 min.
- Photopsias: the presence of flashes of light in either one or both eyes. Could be both temporary and permanent process.
- Fortification spectra: the appearance of images that can float in your eyes.
- Visual hallucinations: occur when your mind is playing tricks on you (e.g. seeing objects move when they are still or viewing items that are not there)
Negative Visual Phenomena
These refer to the partial or complete loss of vision. Symptoms include:
- Negative scotoma (blank spots in the vision field)
- Sudden blidness
- Peripheral vision loss
Altered Visual Phenomena
These disable you to see objects in your central line of vision clearly, without removing it. Symptoms include:
- Kaleidoscopic vision
- Wavy lines and blurry vision
- Color blidness
There are also other types of migraine auras which are generally less common when it comes to vision, but appear if your other senses are getting confused. These include:
- Sensory aura: this starts as tingling and numbness in your limb, which then climbs up your arm and jumps over to the face over the course of 20 minutes.
- Dysphasic aura: this causes transient speech or language problems.
- Hemiplegic aura: the rarest type of aura, which makes people experience weakness on one side of the body.
What causes Kaleidoscope vision?
Kaleidoscopic vision is a symptom of migraine. In addition to that, it could be caused by some other more serious conditions.
This is the most common of all causes that linked to kaleidoscope vision – an ocular migraine (aka visual migraine). It may appear either in one or both eyes and symptoms usually last up to 30 min.
Over 25% of migraine sufferers have visual aura symptoms.
Ocular migraines occur when the blood supply or the walls of blood vessels squeeze on the back of your eye. The symptoms usually include any visual disturbance such as a flashing area in the eye that can end up in episodic blindness soon afterwards.
An ocular migraine can be accompanied with a headache (which is called an acephalgic migraine) or remain painless until after the eye returns to normal.
If you experience rare attacks, some medications can be effective in reducing migraine symptoms, including NSAIDs, anti-nausea, calcium channel blockers and antiepileptic drugs.
Other recommendations may include cutting down on smoking along with oral contraceptive discontinuation in some cases.
Nonpharmalogic ways for relief are to rest your eyes regularly, take frequent breaks to stretch and look away from your screen, try to avoid bright or flickering light, always drink water when feeling dehydration and keep stress levels low.
TIA or stroke
A TIA occurs when the blood stream to the brain is temporary blocked. Although a TIA lasts only a few minutes and doesn’t cause permanent organ damage, it may be a warning. Sooner or later, a TIA leads to a full-on stroke that can cause death.
It can also happen that a person who is having either a TIA or a stroke may feel symptoms of an ocular migraine. This can include the mentioned kaleidoscope vision. Make sure you consult a doctor should you have an ocular migraine as its important to identify warning signs and seek help if necessary.
Other than this, a stroke may affect all of your body or other senses simultaneously, whereas the aura migraine symptoms develop gradually.
A retinal migraine is characterized by repeated bouts of short-lasting blindness, and normally can be accompanied by a headache. Despite the fact that people experiencing a retinal migraine may see changes in one eye only, it’s far more serious condition compared to a visual migraine.
The difference between retinal migraine and other migraines with aura lays in treatment considerations and possible outcomes of the disorder. This might end up being a severe and irreversible vision loss.
MS and migraine
Multiple sclerosis disrupts life in so many ways. Some evidence suggests that people with MS have higher odds of getting migraines of any sort. A number of clinical studies reveal that those who are diagnosed with MS experience headaches three times often than people without it.
There may be a link between MS and migraines, however the relationship is poorly understood. Migraines appear to co-occur with MS but may also be an early symptom of it. But again, there is no much evidence to support this theory.
What is common though, is that both are chronic and bouts of attacks alternate with periods of remission and may lead to visual symptoms, like – you guessed it right – kaleidoscopic vision.
You probably know that hallucinogens is a psychoactive drug that causes profound distortions in the perceptions of reality. So basically, kaleidoscope vision alongside other visual disturbances, can be caused by such group of drugs. When under the influence, users might start hearing sounds and seeing colored images, which resemble kaleidoscopic vision.
What if kaleidoscopic vision is caused by something else?
Okay, so far we’ve gone through all important aspects of ocular migraine and the way it impacts our eye and vision disorders. Although it’s more of a short-term discomfort, as it doesn’t lead to permanent eye damage, you should remain vigilant all the time.
If you experience certain symptoms while having a kaleidoscopic vision please make certain to seek medical advise ASAP:
- You start getting more black dots along with floaters in one eye, especially if they are accompanied by flashes of light
- You start seeing flashes in one eye that last over 60 min
- You are experiencing temporary blindness or partial short-term vision loss
- You are experiencing loss of peripheral vision which is impacting your orientation
- Your headaches worsen in numbers
How to treat this?
You know this feeling when the pain is digging in and the migraine blows up and escalates, and unfortunately no magic pill can wipe it out.
Of course, there are some painkillers that may do the trick and ease headache, but these are short-term effects. It’s important for you to know how deal with migraine and live your life to the fullest.
The good news is that people find that a cold compress on forehead and temples can help with pain. Ice pack wrapped in a thin tower could also be applied to calm disabling symptoms down.
Below is a list of actual drugs that might help mitigate your migraine headaches:
- OTC: ibuprofen, aspirin + caffeine, acetaminophen
- Ergot: dihydroergotamine
- Triptans: sumatriptan succinate
Other than that, nausea and vomiting are common symptoms in migraine and certain treatments can be used off-label in this regard.
- Botox: botox injections (can be made over the painful places) aim to help patients who have not responded to other treatments.
- Antidepressants: can also be used for prevention of migraine headaches
- Vitamins, minerals and supplements: suggested for headaches, including ubiquinone, magnesium, vitamin B2, melatonin, feverfew and butterbur.
- Anti-seizure drugs: prescribed for people who have epilepsy but can also be used to treat migraines. Medications include valproic acid and topiramate.
- Beta-blockers: people who start taking beta-blockers get relief in migraine headaches. Examples include: inderal and blocadren.
Kaleidoscopic vision is a short-lasting migraine symptom that usually passes within an hour and doesn’t entail permanent health damage.
It’s also very likely that kaleidoscope vision might be a starting point of something much worse than just an ocular migraine (e.g. brain damage or a stroke) and people should discuss treatment options with an eye specialist.
The treatment options, in turn, vary across different cases but there are a few medications like over-the-counter and beta-blockers drugs that aim to ease migraine headaches and help you overcome the ailment.