How I See the World, Once a Month

About once a month I suffer from a condition called Ocular Migraines. Scientifically, it is essentially the same as a standard migraine but, in addition to the headache, it makes me temporarily blind for about 20 minutes.

It starts off as a small shimmer of geometric shapes in the corner of my eye, and within a few minutes, it grows to fill my vision changing shape and shifting in color. Like regular migraines, it is unknown exactly what triggers them.

Anyway, through the magic of After Effects, and Trapcode 3D Stroke, I can now share that experience with you. Enjoy.

Anyone else get these?

18 thoughts on “How I See the World, Once a Month”

  1. dude! between 3rd grade to 10th grade i suffered massive migraines. about 10-15 minutes before the onset of the migraine, i would experience ocular distortion. i used to describe it as a diamond shaped “magic eye effect” on a part of my vision. 3 minutes after that started, the right side of my head would go numb. everything, from eyebrow to tongue, even TEETH, would go numb. then 10 minutes later there would be explosive pain. after various test, they determined that i was born with a Chiari-1 ( I eventually outgrew it. now i get the headaches maybe once every 4 months and it’s in my sleep. i don’t remember the pain, but i do feel the after effects in the morning. 🙂
    I’ve never met anyone else who has experienced the ocular displacement. thanks for sharing.

  2. I get something like this, and a head ache usually followed, I explained my situation to someone and they said, maybe your just getting a headache because you are trying to look at the floaters, so I ignored the next one that came and no head ache followed.

  3. I’ve had the same thing 2 or 3 times, maybe more, I don’t really remember. The visuals are nearly 100% the same. Hey but what I do remember is that it happened on bus rides. Weird. 🙂

  4. Yes! Pretty much just like this, but I get it with less color, more flashing lights. But, basically this is it. It’s always a bit disorientating before I realize what is happening, I just am unable to focus on anything.

  5. Yes, but it’s not so much a color thing – It’s more like a visual “vignetting” and I start to loose peripheral vision about 10 minutes before I get what they classify as a standard migraine. If I can find my Imitrex quick enough and lie in a dark room it’ll go away in another 10 minutes. If not, every sound in a 20 mile radius is “turned up to 11” and I’m out for a couple hours.
    Love your work – wish I could start/join and an active AE group here in Nashville lie your up there in NY ?

  6. I get this about once every three months… Colours are more broken up in mine though.

    First time I had it I was working at a motion graphics house on a tight deadline… The producer was pretty pissed when at a critical stage I suddenly downed tools and said, “sorry, I can’t see shit”

  7. Paul – My first time getting it was 17 years ago in college – I thought I was going blind. It was during finals – not getting a lot of sleep or food. Thankfully, my eye doctor showed me a video which explained it. But man, I was freaking out! Originally I only got the visuals, but in recent years, I get really bad headaches and all the fun that comes with a migraine, if I don’t take something as soon as the lightshow starts. Good early warning system though.

  8. Atlanta – something like that. More like… “Here comes a 20 minute break whether I want it or not.” The worst when it happens right before I have to speak publicly, or during it. Not fun.

  9. This has been happening to me off and on for the last year! I actually started to re-create it in After Effects a few months ago, but then it started to remind me too much of it. Haha. Well-done.

  10. Bloody hell! I used to have those! Nowbody ever understood me!

    Mine was linked to stress I guess. Everytime a tight/bad/missproduced deadline would come near and things where going from messy to diabolical I started to get really angry and boom! Blind for some minutes. Scary as hell. I even used to lay on the couch with my feet up so blood would get to my head and hopefully stop the thing. Never worked… course.

    Only thing mine only used the green colour. And normally no headaches (or maybe the headaches were already there before).

    I told my eye doc about it once and she said It was probably stress. So from then on everytime I got stressed I just screamed like crazy and broke something. Never had it again! But lost some furniture.


    Also I had an eye operation and have been glassless for 3 months now. opp was scary as hell but I´m happy to finally see the wolrd after 31 years of bluriness.

    I´m free from Ocular Migrane for some time now. Hope it never comes back. Atlanta somewhat described the feeling I had: “No!No!No! Not again!!! Sorry guys I´m blind for a while just give me a minute.”

    Aharon you´ve been my tutor and now you´re my doctor. Awesome!


  11. Yes, I get them too. I suspect that working with computer monitors for lengthy periods doesn’t help. And I believe dehydration can contribute so less hard liquor and coffee, more water! If only I could take my own advice!

  12. I’ve had this happen a few times. I chalked it up to too much stress and time in front of the computer. I never knew what it was!

  13. I get these optic migraines about 4 times a year……luckily no headaches to follow…..Mine are very colourful and zig-zag in shape, starting from the outer corner and gradually crosses the entire eye…….it takes abbot 20-30 minutes to pass.

  14. I am going through one right now and wanted to know what caused this. Does anyone know/researched what it is and what causes this and why it visits us regularly? I had this since I was real young… and I went to eye doctor for it, thinking my eyes are bad… later years I found out this is called migrain and this is first time I heard Ocular Migrain?

  15. Hi Ahron,
    I’d love to know a bit more about how you designed this effect – I’m working on a feature doc about a young women following stroke. During her recovery she suffered from epileptic seizures and describes the experience just before the fits very much like this. I’d love to re-create that in some POV shots in the film – are you able to advise?
    Many thanks

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