Ask the doctor: Blurry vision and headache

Published: June, 2015

Q. I experienced a minute of blurred vision during a headache today. Is that cause for concern?

A. While temporary blurred vision usually does not indicate a serious underlying health problem, on occasion it can. In people over age 60, I am more concerned about that symptom, because it can be sign of a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a ministroke. The fact that your vision problem accompanied a headache could well indicate that you are suffering from a common type of headache—migraine. Migraines don't threaten permanent damage to your brain, whereas a TIA is a sign that a person is at risk for an impending stroke. Strokes can cause permanent brain damage. If you are younger than 60, if you have had headaches accompanied by visual problems multiple times in the past, or if you have been diagnosed as having migraine headaches, I'd feel even more confident that your symptoms are caused by this condition.

—Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief
Harvard Health Letter