Kaleidoscopic vision is a migraine symptom in which you see flashes of light or a fractured burst of colors in your field of vision as if you are seeing the world through a kaleidoscope. It is experienced by about 25% of people during a migraine attack.
Kaleidoscope vision may be serious if you experience additional symptoms, such as:
- New dark spots in one eye
- New flashes of light in one eye
- Tunnel vision (loss of vision on one side of the field of vision)
- Temporary vision loss in one eye
6 causes kaleidoscope vision
- Ocular migraine: Ocular migraine is usually the cause of kaleidoscope vision. This type of migraine can cause visual disruptions, usually in both eyes. Fortunately, episodes of this type of migraine usually last for only about 10-30 minutes.
- Retinal migraine: Unlike ocular migraine, retinal migraine occurs in just one eye, causing you to see flashing lights or blind spots. However, the condition is more serious than a visual migraine. It is caused by a disruption in blood flow to one eye and may cause permanent blindness if left untreated.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): People with multiple sclerosis are 3 times more likely to experience migraines than others, although the connection between the two conditions remains unknown. If you suffer from MS and have been experiencing kaleidoscopic vision, you may have ocular or retinal migraine.
- Transient ischemic attack or stroke: Kaleidoscopic vision can be a sign of brain damage, such as stroke (also called transient ischemic attack or TIA).TIA is caused by a decreased blood flow to the brain. Although most patients recover quickly, the condition may take a more serious turn and cause life-long paralysis. If you experience kaleidoscopic vision along with weakness on one side of the body, seek medical help immediately.
- Uncontrolled diabetes: Chronic or consistently high sugar levels can lead to kaleidoscopic vision, likely due to swelling over the retina and cornea because of microvascular injury in the case of diabetes. Symptoms generally disappear when sugar levels are brought down to normal.
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and mescaline: Hallucinogenic agents, such as LSD and mescaline, can cause visual distortions and even kaleidoscopic vision.
Does kaleidoscope vision go away?
Kaleidoscopic vision goes away after the cause has been treated. Various treatments include:
- Wearing eyeglasses. Kaleidoscope vision due to visual misalignment can be corrected by wearing eyeglasses.
- Medications for ocular migraine. Medications for ocular migraine include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. Ask your doctor about which one is best for you.
- Treatment of diabetes. Getting proper treatment of diabetes and maintaining normal blood sugar levels is crucial. You will need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly, take medications as prescribed, follow a strict diet, and exercise regularly to keep your sugar levels under control.
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Al Khalili Y, Jain S, King KC. Retinal Migraine Headache. [Updated 2021 Jun 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507725/
Kiechl S, Furtner M, Knoflach M, et al. Kaleidoscopic vision and a jerking leg on the ski slope. Lancet. 2007 Dec 1;370(9602):1878. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18061063/
Swanson JW. Ocular migraine. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/expert-answers/ocular-migraine/faq-20058113
VisionCenter.org. What is Kaleidoscope Vision? https://www.visioncenter.org/conditions/kaleidoscope-vision/
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