You might try an old trick: put a perfectly white layer beneath your pic. Use the Luma Keyer on your pic, set to key out brighter, and animate the settings. If you don't like the jaggy look, you can always feather it, etc.
Or you can apply levels and THEN the luma keyer. Animate Levels to make the brighter parts even brighter.
Dave's is a good suggestion. I prefer to start the to white transition with an adjustment layer and exposure. The adjustment layer's blend mode would be set to add. Then I put the white layer below, and apply luma key to the original layer.
I had some success animating Glow's settings on an additive copy of the layer. You might have to finesse the opacity and the effect settings a bit but it gets most of the way to white. You'd need a quick garbage mask or fade in an additive white solid to finish it off however.
CC Light Blast in a similar configuration (applied to additive copy of the same image) with the blast source in that main blown out area produced a pretty good result along those lines as well. Might be a little blurry/streaky though.
I couldn't say if these can be made to progress exactly the way you want, but they're close based on the description.
Annoyingly, the old version of Lens Blur had some brutal specularity and highlight settings that could do precisely what you're after, I think. The new Camera Lens Blur (in CS 5.5 at least), while probably better at its intended job, hasn't got these sorts of options and it's harder to eke out the same result.
Oh well. If the Luma Key method doesn't work for you these might be worth a try.