Causes of Seeing Squiggly or Jagged Lines in Your Vision

Have you ever seen a momentary black spot in your vision? How about rugged white lines? Something that looks like heat waves sparkling in your peripheral vision?

Jagged Lines in a Vision: Causes and Symptoms

If you have, you may have been experiencing what is referred to as an ocular migraine. Ocular migraines take place when capillary spasm in the visual center of the brain (the occipital lobe) or the retina.

They can take on a number of various symptoms however usually last from a few minutes to an hour. They can take on either positive or negative visual symptoms indicating they can produce what looks like a black blocked out area in your vision (negative symptom) or they can produce visual symptoms that you see however understand aren’t really there like heat waves or rugged white lines that look nearly like lightning streaks (positive symptoms).

fuzzy lines in my vision
Flashes of light can appear as jagged lines or “heat waves” in one or both eyes.

Some individuals do get a headache after the visual symptoms however many people do not. They get the visual symptoms which resolve on their own in under an hour and after that usually just feel slightly out of sorts after the episode however don’t get a considerable headache. The majority of episodes last about 20 minutes however can go on for an hour. The hallmark of this problem is that when the visual phenomenon solves the vision returns totally back to normal with no residual change or defect.

If you have this happen for the first time it can be fairly scary and it is a good idea to have a thorough eye examination by your eye doctor or eye doctor not long after the episode to be sure there is nothing else causing the problem.

There are other things besides an ocular migraine that can trigger similar symptoms. Flashing lights and new drifting spots in your vision could be the indication of a retinal tear or detachment (see I’m seeing new floating spots in my vision, what should I do?).

Many individuals who get ocular migraines tend to have them occur in clusters. They will get 3 or four episodes within a week and after that may not have another one for numerous months or even years.

There are some attributes that raise your threat for ocular migraines. The greatest one is an individual history of having migraine headaches. Having a family history of migraines likewise raises your threat as does a history of movement sickness.

Although the symptoms can trigger a great deal of stress and anxiety, especially on the first incident, ocular migraines seldom trigger any long term issues and nearly never need treatment as long as they are not accompanied by significant headaches.

So if symptoms like this unexpectedly take place in your vision attempt to stay calm, pull over if you are driving, and just await them to disappear. If they persist for longer than an hour, then you need to look for immediate medical attention.

When to See a Doctor?

Of course, if you see such lines in your vision – this is an excuse to see a doctor and not to self-medicate. Contact your ophthalmologist if you find one or more of the following symptoms:

  • seeing waves in peripheral vision (out of corner of eye)
  • seeing white lines in your vision
  • having blurry waves in peripheral vision
  • jagged line in vision field
  • edge of vision shimmering (sometimes, constantly)
  • waves in eyesight and headache
  • jagged flashing lights in vision
  • mirage vision in eyes, etc.
Reyus Mammadli (Eyexan Team Leader) / author of the article
Bachelor in biomedical and electrical apparatus and systems. For more than 20 years he has been studying methods to improve health using affordable and safe methods. Collaborates with eye care charity organization of the CCP. Specialization is a vision correction by laser surgery, including LASIK.
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