Eye or brain, or both or neither?
November 17, 2017 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend. Mystery halo seen in eye?

I know you are not my/her doctor, etc. Okay so friend says she's been feeling rundown. She doesn't have health insurance so she cannot easily go to a doctor. The doctors she can afford, like at the Walgreen's Clinic or something, aren't helpful. So no, not ideal for me to be asking about this here, but any clues as to whether or not this is something to be concerned about are appreciated.

Friend is extremely sensitive to bright lights, loud noises like roaring vacuum cleaners, and strong perfumes and scents and allergens like pet hair and mold. Recently she described to me that after standing for a long time in a field with a camera as part of her job, being chewed up by mosquitoes, she developed a condition of some sort where, when she looked at a bright light like a car headlight, she saw cocentric silver circles in her right eye. She insists it was only the right eye. She says she did not have pain in her head at all, and that this lasted for about two weeks. Then, she says, she started to feel better, and the problem went away.

My thought was migraine, but, no head pain. A retina issue maybe? She says she did not see pieces missing from her vision as I believe happens when the retina starts to detach or tear, she just says it was silver cocentric circles, one inside the other. The eye in question is not dominant, to the point where she has to wear a contact to keep it from slowly becoming weaker and weaker. She had her last vision exam in February of this year, dilation, all of that.

posted by Armed Only With Hubris to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could be anything. Optic neuritis jumps out at me, but IANAD. It’s often the first horseman of an MS diagnosis. BUT, like I said, could be literally anything. Friend should see a doctor.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:00 PM on November 17, 2017

Oh, and migraine aura can occur without pain, but usually doesn’t last so long.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:01 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

IANAD, but google "ocular migraine" or "ophthalmic migraine" images and see if that fits the description. I had one when I was pregnant and it freaked me out but wasn't dangerous. There's no pain.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:16 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I get optical migraine that are solely disturbances in my vision - no headache. What they guys call a retinal migraine. Mine are predictably 20-30 minutes events.
posted by metahawk at 6:17 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I used to get halos around lights often when wearing contacts. It happens when the dilation of your pupil is bigger than the active optical zone of the contact lens (basically, the part of the contact lens that works to correct your vision). I managed to find a brand of contacts with a really large optical zone, and the problem went away.
posted by waffleriot at 6:22 PM on November 17, 2017

Halo around point source bright light at night is a classic glaucoma symptom.
What was her intraocular eye pressure in February? Did they test it?
(My optometrist tests it with a painless machine).

Works with her eyes and a camera? Then it's worth checking out.
posted by the Real Dan at 6:27 PM on November 17, 2017

Scintillating scotoma?
posted by prize bull octorok at 6:30 PM on November 17, 2017

Does she take any drugs regularly? Adderall and similar amphetamines can cause dilated pupils. None of my optometrists until my newest one commented on it, and she (my new optometrist) was surprised I was able to stand being out in full sunlight.

So perhaps that could be the cause of the light sensitivity and a factor in the halo in the way waffleriot suggests.
posted by XMLicious at 7:32 PM on November 17, 2017

migraines don't necessarily resolve into headache pain. they also can last horrifyingly long times if you are unfortunate enough to have severe chronic intractable migraines, which i do, and i can tell you that a no-headache migraine lasting only 2 weeks is my dream, it's what i imagine heaven might be like.

if she's ever had a head injury it's even more likely. even if she's ever been in very minor car accident, a simple fender bender that she felt fine afterwards.

anyway everything she describes, aside from the vision thing being in only one eye, is pretty much my daily life as someone with a variety of neuro issues, foremost amongst them migraines. these are variously from multiple minor head injuries, neck injury, viral infections, and genetics.

tl;dr she should see a neurologist.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:45 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

So the original question postulated that the friend has no insurance. Are there suggestions how a consultation with a good doc could be arranged without health insurance? I ask because I don't have the knowledge to make suggestions.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:27 PM on November 17, 2017

Yes, call the office of the doctor in question and ask how much they will charge for self pay, then ask if they are willing to work out a payment plan.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:07 PM on November 17, 2017

Sounds like cataract to me. My wife needs cataract surgery and keeps postponing it, she sees halos around the moon and other bright lights.
posted by charlesminus at 9:46 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Man, I really wouldn't assume this is anything as simple as a migraine, especially when it went on that long. I'd really be concerned this could be a cataract or other issue of some kind. This is something to take seriously and see if someone can consult on with a sliding scale—I understand the hesitance to spend money on this without insurance, but it's worth it to preserve her vision if there is an issue.
posted by limeonaire at 10:08 PM on November 17, 2017

Thanks for all your answers. The reason I asked for some ideas is so that when she does go to a doctor, she can have an idea of where to start. Searches like that are much harder with no insurance. Payments plans are fine - with the right doctor. Not all of them will consider it. And some that will are horrible doctors... such is the way of the uninsured in the American health care system.

She did tell me after I posted this that both of her grandmothers had cataracts, so I will encourage her to look into that and also into the migraine possibility.

This helps a lot. Thanks.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 10:27 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

When she looks in direct light, is it painful in addition to the halo? If so, it could be uveitis, which is an autoimmune response in the anterior part of the eye. I would suggest that she see an ophthalmologist.
posted by sulaine at 2:44 AM on November 18, 2017

I see halos around lights at night when driving unless I wear my prescription glasses. In fact, that's what made me go get glasses for driving because the halos around other cars' headlights and taillights freaked me out. I suppose that kind of thing could happen in just one eye, I've never checked to see if it was just one of my eyes doing that.

I've also had ocular migraine a handful of times but it goes away within 20 minutes or so. Cool lines of shimmer across my vision, the first time scared me., but, like your friend, I didn't have insurance so didn't get it checked out. It wasn't until the internet that I figured out what it was.
posted by mareli at 5:56 AM on November 18, 2017

She did tell me after I posted this that both of her grandmothers had cataracts, so I will encourage her to look into that and also into the migraine possibility.

I was thinking something eye-related was a possibility, and the family history also suggests this. Also (don't laugh, this is what I thought of) halos-around-lights is actually the symptom that Bono apparently said he had which caused his doctor to think to check him out for glaucoma (apparently that's why he's worn sunglasses all this time).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on November 18, 2017

Does she still see the halo without the contact lens in?
posted by aecorwin at 9:59 AM on November 19, 2017

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