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Dr. Chip
Dr. Chip, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 36090
Experience:  20 yrs. in practice, includinge surgery, general medicine, addiction medicine and pain.
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. When I waken up I often see black zigzag lines

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Hello. When I waken up I often see black zigzag lines for a few seconds. The same pattern in both eyes. I recently had my eyes checked by an ophthalmologist and they were OK. Why would I see this in both eyes?
Hi and sorry for the delay. This only happens briefly when you wake up?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, sometimes in the morning for a few seconds. Then it disappears. I also sometimes see a small dark smudge or shape in front of my eyes when I wake up, which also disappears in a few seconds. What puzzles me is that I see the same shapes in both eyes, not just one. It obviously doesn't inconvenience me as it's just for a few seconds and it doesn't happen apart from that, but I'm puzzled and a bit worried. Any light you can throw on this would be welcome.

OK--any headache involved with this? And did the ophthalmologist have anything to say?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There's no headache. I very rarely get headaches. I didn't think of mentioning this to the ophthalmologist because an optician had told me some time back that the lines weren't a major issue. (I had floaters and light flashes some years ago but got these checked out by an optician and ophthalmologist at that time, and was told there was no major problem). I went to see the ophthalmologist most recently about some coloured shapes I was seeing in the left eye (for a few seconds on waking up) but he checked both eyes and said the eyes were fine. But since I saw the ophthalmologist (a week or two ago) I've noticed that I can see the same dark zigzag pattern in both eyes for a few seconds. I have no idea why I would see it in both eyes. (I also occasionally get a migraine, which is quite a different experience. I never have any discomfort or headaches from the migraine, just a shimmering zigzag aura of light which grows in the field of vision and then disappears.)

OK. I think this is what's known as variant migraine--the aura of the migraine without the headache itself. Since it's brief it certainly doesn't act like a brain tumor but just to be sure I'd get an MRI of your brain. If you were my patient my next step would be to have you be seen by a neurologist.

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