Migraine is a form of headache that is usually associated with other significant symptoms. They may occur once in a person’s life, or three times a week; may cause a relatively mild head pain, or may totally disable the patient.
Migraines are often associated with visual symptoms including flashing lights, shimmering (glowing vision when you close your eyes), seeing zigzag lines and loss of part of the area of vision. They usually occur on only one side of the head, are described as throbbing, and cause intolerance of exercise, light and noise. Nausea and vomiting are common. Migraines occur periodically, and may last for a few hours to several days. The patient often looks pale and drawn.
There are no specific diagnostic tests, but doctors can sometimes diagnose a migraine by their visual pattern. If the patient closes their eyes, patterns can be seen on the back of the eyelids which are actually the random activity of the nerves in the light sensitive retina at the back of the eye and in the visual centre of the brain. In normal people, a swirling smooth pattern will be seen, but a patient with a migraine will see flashes of light, bright colours and jagged patterns.