The most challenging thing about diagnosing frequent scintillating scotoma is that patients are usually confused about the symptoms. The reason that diagnosis is often difficult is because the way it manifests is usually similar to symptoms of other conditions. While the scintillating scotoma is a not a serious neurological disorder(1), patients usually experience a visual aura that could easily affect their lives for a short period of time, and could cause some distress.
Most of these episodes only happen once or twice a year, but sometimes they become more frequent. In that case, some patients will become concerned because they are becoming less functional because of their inability to read or drive while experiencing such episodes.
It’s natural that you could feel overwhelmed when experiencing these symptoms. In order to understand them better, and help to clear up any confusion, here is a deeper dive into what this condition could mean for you.
Are You At Risk?
The good thing to know is that there is nothing serious going on with you if you are suffering from frequent scintillating scotoma. Most of the time, your doctor will prescribe medications that will strengthen your blood vessels just to make sure that you don’t experience a lot of episodes. Since most of the time, your aura will not be accompanied by a headache; you won’t probably need any over-the-counter medications (OTCs) or painkillers.
However, in order to get effective treatment, patients need to be precise and decisive when it comes to describing their symptoms to the doctor. While some patients can say that they have blurry vision, the truth is that scintillating scotoma is a totally different condition. Patients either have positive or negative auras in that case. A positive aura is when the patient sees something that is not there. A negative aura is when there is a blind spot in their vision where they are not able to see everything around them.
Such visual auras can make objects seem different in size or position. Frequent scintillating scotoma can last from a few seconds to a few months. Patients usually forego such symptoms unless they are accompanied by other obvious symptoms like headaches, tingling or numbness. But when they become more frequent, this kind of condition can become more concerning.
What Causes your Frequent Scintillating Scotoma?
If you are experiencing frequent scintillating scotoma, you should head to your doctor. Most of the time, the condition could be caused by weak blood vessels in your brain. When this condition happens on the retinal level, older patients are usually at risk. This especially includes people with a history of hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases.
The condition could also be caused by problems in the retinal artery or the optic nerve. In that case, patients usually experience negative auras; where they can’t see the entire field of view. The condition could last from a few seconds or up to 30 minutes. While this is happening, healthcare providers should keep an eye on the nature and progress of the condition to make sure that there is nothing wrong with the blood capillaries in the brain.
Overall, frequent scintillating scotoma have been linked through research to certain physiological triggers. Therefore, if you suffer from cardiovascular issues or hypertension, or you suspect that you may have problems with your retinal artery or optic nerve, it will be in your best interest to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Although this is not a dangerous or fatal condition per se, it could be an indication of something more serious going on. You should always head to the doctor whenever you start experiencing frequent scintillating scotoma. You should also do this even if you aren’t sure of what you are experiencing, but have noted some visual disturbances.
In order to give you a proper assessment and find out what is actually happening, the doctor will have to run a lot of tests to make sure that there is nothing wrong with your vision nerve. These tests will help rule out all the other more serious possibilities and will also help decide on the extent of the problem. That way, you can get the most effective treatment possible.
As we mentioned above, frequent scintillating scotoma is treatable, as long as you are proactive and seek help from a medical professional about how to help you treat and prevent this kind of condition. In the above article, it has also been stated that this is a condition that can affect people with a tendency towards certain diseases, or those who have trouble with their blood capillaries or optic nerve. Therefore, if this is something you are concerned about, or you have issues with these in your family, go and speak to a doctor today.
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