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A scintillating scotoma or a visual migraine is one of the most wide-spread migraines. There are different types of migraines, and ones that come with or without certain symptoms.

Scintillating scotoma without headache is exactly that. In other words, it involves the visual interference that is usually associated with this condition, but without the pain. It shouldn’t be confused with an ocular migraine as this is a different health issue.

The most common symptom of a scintillating scotoma is seeing a flickering or bright spot in your field of vision. The patient can’t see the whole field of vision clearly because of that spot of light. The flickering area is usually not dark. Nevertheless, this condition can affect vision and all related activities. These will include the ability to study, drive, read, write and perhaps even engaging in simple, everyday tasks.

Scintillating Scotoma Without Headache: Background

In most cases, the patient will see a bright or flickering spot of light that blocks the vision without being too dark. This spot usually expands to cover a bigger area, thus blocking vision furthermore.

However, the person will be able to see normally beyond the borders of that spot.

Progression and Problems

As the time goes by, the scotoma is more likely to grow in size. In the early stages, patients will be able to see objects more clearly by not looking at them directly. Tilting their faces or looking at one side of the object might prove to be more comfortable. In this way, the patient will be able to see more details of the object as they adjust the scotoma so that it doesn’t cover the object.

As the condition progresses, the scotoma can cover half the field of vision. The nature of the flickering can change as well. Some patients report seeing arcs or waves of bright light, while others can see different and more uncommon patterns. The color of the light can differ from bright white to other colors.

What are Causes?

The main cause behind scintillating scotoma without headache is a pattern of changes in the nerves of the brain. This condition is known as cortical spreading depression and is the most important cause of the scotoma.

Migraines are usually caused by and can lead to hormonal imbalance. This, in turn, will interfere with the normal functions of this particular nerve in the body.

Other Triggers

Cardiovascular diseases can also trigger scintillating scotoma without headache, and the associated symptoms can become very severe over time. High blood pressure is also one of the reasons that usually leads to the development of this condition. Brain injuries can also lead to the development of this ailment, so it’s important to get a thorough examination if you have been involved in any kind of accident or incident with head trauma.

In fact, most patients who suffer from brain injuries are more likely to suffer from a scintillating scotoma without headache later on. Eye problems and diseases are usually linked to this type of condition too. Glaucoma and changes in the retina can also be a trigger.


As we have mentioned above, scintillating scotoma without headache is one of the manifestations of this kind of condition. in some cases, however, patients report some pain that usually goes away after a while.

A typical episode usually resolves within 5 to 20 minutes with no side effects typically. Once the scotoma starts to disappear, patients usually start to see objects more clearly.

However, in some severe cases, patients will experience more serious side effects like nausea and dizziness. This usually happens as the condition worsens.


As with any kind of headache, it’s important to treat the symptoms and root causes as soon as possible in order to manage the condition properly.

Consulting with an experienced medical professional is the best course of action, as they will be able to look at your genetic history and do tests that can further help to understand why you are experiencing scintillating scotoma without headache.

As these types of visual disturbances sometimes go away quite quickly, it might be over before you get to a doctor. However, if you experience these types of symptoms often, it is very important to be aware of your triggers, and get treatment so that you don’t jeopardise your own wellbeing and safety.


As we have covered in the article above, scintillating scotoma without headache does occur, even though some people do report experiencing some kind of pain when experiencing these kinds of visual disturbances.

This condition is thought to be caused by a condition called cortical spreading depression, which affects the functioning of the nerves in the brain, and has been linked to migraines.

Therefore, while visual disturbances have been associated with intense migraine pain, this is not always the case. If you do experience these kinds of symptoms and you are concerned, it is best to consult with a qualified medical professional who can help.

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