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Brain & Nervous System Disorders Message Board


Brain & Nervous System Disorders Board Index


Hi, I wonder if anyone can help me please. I’m new to the boards and have tried to find existing posts related to my problem but can’t.

I have recently been undergoing hospital tests, but have been discharged without diagnosis as nobody knows what is wrong with me! I have had an MRI scan of my brain (all clear) and also several EEGs to test for epilepsy (nothing detected).

Every single day, anything up to about 6 times a day, I experience a change in my perception where colours seem overly bright and everything is very vivid. These “episodes” only last for about 10-15 seconds and I don’t experience any other symptoms (such as headache, nausea, dizziness, unusual sounds or smells). I can continue to function completely normally and nobody else would know I was having this experience unless I told them. However, it is unusual and distracting!

The symptoms started about 5 years ago and for about 2 years were not as extreme as I describe now, so I was actually unable to define what was happening, and hence didn’t see a doctor. For years they did not alter at all, and then suddenly got worse (colours got brighter, like when you turn up the colour and contrast on your TV set). Recently they have changed again, and now everything seems to stretch slightly in shape during these episodes.

Incidentally, I am not taking (nor have I ever taken) mind-altering drugs! As far as I remember, there was no trigger for these “episodes” – I did not have a head injury or major illness. (I am 36 year old white British female, by the way, in case that’s relevant)

It is definitely a brain issue and not my eyesight as my eyes have been tested and there is nothing wrong with them, plus I can almost “feel” it happening in my head. Recently, they have started happening during my sleep and wake me temporarily – even in the dark when no colours can be seen, I can “feel” it. Also, just before they happen in my sleep, I see a very fleeting image, extremely vividly, almost like a dream but so quick and almost subliminally I can rarely remember what the image was when I wake up.

So to sum up – 10-15 second episodes daily when everything I am looking at becomes extremely bright and colours are more vivid, sometimes accompanied by a slight stretching out of shape. They happen at any time (including when I am asleep) but I cannot bring them on at will.

It is not a migraine (I’ve had one of those and it’s completely different) and I don’t experience any other symptoms but it is distracting and worrying.

Has anybody out there ever heard of or experienced anything similar? I would love to hear from you!

Many thanks.
wow that IS pretty crazy to just have happen with no appearent reason like the pre migrane aura we can get witht hem? i a,m just wondering if you have ever actually been seen by a specialist called a neuro opthamologist? these types of eye specialists just deal much more with the effects the brain can have on vision, espescially from trauma or spinal cord injury, but THIS would be the type of doc who would more than likely be the type who could put ANY possible brain 'reasons' for your actual vision problem together for you. just wanted to mention this incase you have never seen this particular type of specialist? i just do really thinktnis particular type of doc would be your very best bet at possibly finding the real underlying reason for the overly sensitive color reactions you have been having. i wish you luck in finally finding the real Dx of this. please keep us posted. marcia
Occasionally when I wake up from low quality sleep (often in the middle of the night, during a nightmare) I have some sort of closed eye visuals, as in colorful images and fractal-like patterns. I do not actually see them in my field of vision, but when I close my eyes, it seems like I "think" I'm seeing them. But that's just the first part of it.

Then what usually happens is I get some sort of "slight" vision change--I can look at my alarm clock and the numbers look different than usual, and my hands look different in some slight way, like the lines are more bold and noticeable. This only seems to happen when waking up from disturbed and/or low quality sleep. The longest the vision change lasted was 2 minutes, just recently in fact, and it freaked me out. But eventually I started some deep breathing exercises, moved around a little, and it went away. It always does go away, although the aformentioned episode was quite scary.

Seeing as this is exclusively a "waking phenomenon", some people have suggested it could be hypnopompia, in which I've awoken but some parts of my brain are still asleep. I'm not sure if the actual vision change could fit hypnopompia, though?? I can say that I do [I]not [/I]get nausea or headache following it, although I have had a sensation of constant head pressure for 6 years now. I'm not a migraine sufferer, although some people like to call my head pressure "atypical migraine."

I have taken antidepressants for many years, and I do sometimes have large amounts of caffeine in the PM (surely it affects sleep) so its possible these two drugs may have something to do with it. The first time I noticed this phenomenon, I had been on an antidepressant for at least one year.

Anyone have some idea what this is.. without scaring me (hypochondriac, here)?
dont cha just LOVE those 'specialists' or primarys who DESPITE the correlating test results that would confirm or deny a particular Dx or condition being responsible STILL continue to INSIST that 'this IS what you are suffering from? thats what they tell patients when they don't have a freaking clue.

i just really DO feel that the neuro op would indeed be the best type of doc to move onto next, even more now, lol. geez. i mean despite any evidence to back up this dx, we are just going to 'label' you with having it? the neuro ops just KNOW how the brain can impact vision much much moreso than with any other type of real specialist. this is exactly where i would ask to be referred to, asap. YOU just do deserve much better care and treatment and diagnostics than you have been getting, thats for certain. a real solid Dx would be kind of nice for a change. good luck with this and please let me know what you find out,K? marcia
Hi everyone

Sadly it's certainly true they don't have a clue what's wrong, although I cannot believe I am the only person EVER to have presented these symptoms! That's why I found these boards in the end... just to see if anyone out there is experiencing the same thing. As I said, they're not particularly debilitating or unpleasant (hence the docs discharging me, as I don't think I'm in serious danger) but it would be nice to know what it is and prevent the "episodes", if possible. Or at least know they're not going to get any worse.

I didn't really mention before that they seem to happen more when I am tired or under stress - the only day I have had without one in the past few years was when I was relaxed on holiday for a week. And then it was only one day out of a week's holiday - they happened all the other days!

Aside from this, I am otherwise in good health and nobody else in my family has ever reported these problems. A mystery!!

So if anyone has a clue, please let me know! And for those who have responded, many thanks for your support.

Best wishes.
I very much can relate to what you are describing. My experience is also increased contrast, usually with a reddish hue. Sometimes everything looks like fog or smoke, that can last for 20 minutes. I have been to two neuro-ophthalmologists, they could not explain it.
My symptoms were caused by a traumatic brain injury.
My understanding is that an EEG might not detect abnormalities deep enough into the brain matter and cannot absolutely rule out simple partial seizures. I am taking an anticonvulsant and it helped to calm it down.
Hi biminia, thanks very much for your reply. I'm sorry to hear about your experience, especially a traumatic brain injury.

Your symptoms do sound similar to mine, although mine do not last as long, nor have the fog/smoke effect. In fact, since my last post, they have changed again (this is the worry - what will they become next?) and now when I have an "attack", everything distorts to become slightly wider, and appears to zoom in towards me. Thankfully they are still only lasting 10-15 seconds.

Thanks for the EEG and the anticonvulsants info .... I hope your symptoms settle down.

Best wishes.
I wasn't very clear, my thinking gets foggy too, so I'll try again.

My vision changes (assessment of size, movement, orientation) were caused by biomechanical diffuse axonal shearing. I had severe visual comprehension problems, double vision, no depth perception and didn't recognize individual things. Then had vision therapy for 1 1/2 years and continued therapy for several more years on my own and still continue to improve. Diagnosis was post traumatic vision syndrome.

Additionally, colors get stronger and brighter with sharp edges. Sometimes it looks like there are several edges. This slowly increases and decreases throughout the day depending on stress and activity. Maybe water intake has something to do with that too. I also see bright yellowish fast moving lights and overall patterns.
The smokiness happens only several times a year. Often, the only color I can make out is faint pink. The worst one lasted for the rest of the day and was gone by the next morning. This has been going on for 7 years but improved greatly with medication that I have been taking for about 5 years. So it took 2 years to find a remedy that worked. My diagnosis for this was physiologic non-epileptic seizure disorder.

A neuro ophthalmologist should be able to identify the cause and give recommendations. Sadly, both of mine did superficial exams, had technicians do the acuity testing. So, insist on an extensive exam by the n/o. Depending on insurance billing, that is a 30 or 45 minute exam. It is important that you find the cause of this. It could be a virus that runs its course or something that needs to be investigated promptly before it gets worse.

Keep a symptom diary. You may think you will remember, however that will rarely happen. Prepare a list for your doctor besides your medical history and medication. Describe your symptoms, when they started, how long they last, what relieves or worsens it, how it changed over time.

I wish you all the best.
It is possible to have "silent migraines" with no pain but other neurological symptoms including vision changes.
(I had silent migraines with vertigo as my primary symptom for years.)
I would ask the neurologist about this.
[QUOTE=macanon;4136710]Hi, I wonder if anyone can help me please. I’m new to the boards and have tried to find existing posts related to my problem but can’t.

I have recently been undergoing hospital tests, but have been discharged without diagnosis as nobody knows what is wrong with me! I have had an MRI scan of my brain (all clear) and also several EEGs to test for epilepsy (nothing detected).

Every single day, anything up to about 6 times a day, I experience a change in my perception where colours seem overly bright and everything is very vivid. These “episodes” only last for about 10-15 seconds and I don’t experience any other symptoms (such as headache, nausea, dizziness, unusual sounds or smells). I can continue to function completely normally and nobody else would know I was having this experience unless I told them. However, it is unusual and distracting!

The symptoms started about 5 years ago and for about 2 years were not as extreme as I describe now, so I was actually unable to define what was happening, and hence didn’t see a doctor. For years they did not alter at all, and then suddenly got worse (colours got brighter, like when you turn up the colour and contrast on your TV set). Recently they have changed again, and now everything seems to stretch slightly in shape during these episodes.

Incidentally, I am not taking (nor have I ever taken) mind-altering drugs! As far as I remember, there was no trigger for these “episodes” – I did not have a head injury or major illness. (I am 36 year old white British female, by the way, in case that’s relevant)

It is definitely a brain issue and not my eyesight as my eyes have been tested and there is nothing wrong with them, plus I can almost “feel” it happening in my head. Recently, they have started happening during my sleep and wake me temporarily – even in the dark when no colours can be seen, I can “feel” it. Also, just before they happen in my sleep, I see a very fleeting image, extremely vividly, almost like a dream but so quick and almost subliminally I can rarely remember what the image was when I wake up.

So to sum up – 10-15 second episodes daily when everything I am looking at becomes extremely bright and colours are more vivid, sometimes accompanied by a slight stretching out of shape. They happen at any time (including when I am asleep) but I cannot bring them on at will.

It is not a migraine (I’ve had one of those and it’s completely different) and I don’t experience any other symptoms but it is distracting and worrying.

Has anybody out there ever heard of or experienced anything similar? I would love to hear from you!

Many thanks.[/QUOTE]
I was just browsing and searching. But everything seems bright and glowing today. Been like that for a couple hours. So was checking stuff out online. I was wondering if they ever figured out what was the problem with your eyes. Thanks....
Hi FroggyMayhem, thanks very much for your message. Sadly no, nothing was ever resolved with my eyesight/sight perception. The "episodes" have now changed, and my depth of perception has altered as well now. The colours are less vivid than they were, but everything now seems to "zoom in" and it's almost as though everything is ultra-3D. Objects seems closer than they really are. I'm still not adversely affected though, and this has literally been going on for years now, so I'm becoming less concerned that it's serious (as I'm still here!!) but it still remains puzzling.....
Best wishes to you.
I have had similar symptoms, and bits of pieces of what everyone has said. I have been going through depression and/or anxiety lately (no medication), and have been having longer lasting "episodes". Sometimes they wax and wane, and go on most of the day until sleep relieves them somewhat. The only way I can describe it is that everything visually seems bright, and/or foggy/hazy, and everything sort of seems slightly surreal (in an uncomfortable way). Colors do seem more vivid. I am also frequently just slightly shaky during the worst parts.

I have had undiagnosed visual symptoms in my left eye for many years now, progressively getting worse. It's as if there is a delay in my visual response in this eye. When looking from one object to another, there is visual blur for as long as 5 seconds (before focusing normally). I also see flashes/streaks of light, and get the visual sensation as if being momentarily blinded by something bright (when, infact it's not very bright). Also weird floaters in this eye that don't act like floaters (more like neuro misfiring). Saw a neuro-optho 3 times now (yes the same doc), and they can never find anything wrong. He even issued non-contrast MRI of the head, MRA of the corotid/ MRA of circle of willis. Normal results. This is really bothering me. With bouts of this surreal brightness, and the other steadily worsening visual symptoms that no one can diagnose. Neuro originally (5 years ago) thought it was serotonin syndrome from the 3 years I was on Serzone. It's hard to function out in public, to the point that I've considered quitting my day job. Recently developed occasional numbness in left chin, sometimes moving to upper chin. Anyway, not to crap on the original post. I wanted to chime in and share my experience. If anyone has any suggestions I'm open to them.





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