How Is Retinal Migraine Diagnosed
There arent any specific tests to diagnose a retinal migraine.
If you see a doctor or optometrist during a retinal migraine attack, they may use a tool called an ophthalmoscope to check for decreased blood flow to your eye, but this generally isnt feasible because attacks are usually brief.
Doctors typically diagnose a retinal migraine by investigating the symptoms, conducting a general examination, and reviewing a personal and family medical history.
Retinal migraine is usually diagnosed by a process of exclusion, meaning that symptoms such as transient blindness cant be explained by other serious eye diseases or conditions.
If you need help finding a primary care doctor or optometrist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Do Glasses Help With Ocular Migraines
After more than five years in business, nearly 90% of the tens of thousands who have used precision-tinted TheraSpecs glasses have experienced relief for their migraine-related light sensitivity. Some of the reported benefits include: Reduction in total migraine attacks, especially those induced by light.
What Is The Connection Between Ocular Migraines And Stroke
Ischemic strokes, or strokes caused by a blockage to the brain, account for the majority of all stroke cases in the United States todaynearly87 percent, in factand individuals suffering from migraines with aura are 2.4 times more likely to have an ischemic stroke than those who have migraines without aura, according to the American Heart Association. Recent studies have identified a direct correlation between migraines and the eventual development of certain cardiovascular diseases,especially among women. Although the exact underlying cause is not fully understood, one thing remains very clear: individuals experiencing migraines with aura have agreater risk of stroke than individuals who do not.
Souvik Sen, M.D., M.P.H., study author and neurologist at theUniversity of South Carolina School of Medicine has said, Since migraines alter the blood vessels in the brain, the greater incidence of strokes caused by blood clots in the heart or the brains blood vessels suggests that migraine also affects blood vessels in the heart and neck. Thats what possibly leads to these specific subtypes of stroke.
Experts are now advising individuals suffering from ocular migraines to be vigilant about their symptoms, as typical migraine symptoms could signify something much more serious.
You May Like: Can Antibiotics Cause Headache
Ocular Migraine And Visual Migraine Symptoms
Ocular migraine symptoms generally include a small blind spot that affects your central vision in one eye. This blind spot gets larger, making it impossible for you to drive safely or read with the affected eye.
In some cases, the entire visual field of one eye may be affected. Generally, the episode lasts less than an hour.
Visual migraine symptoms can vary, and may include:
Visual migraines often appear suddenly and may create the sensation of looking through a cracked window. The visual migraine aura usually moves across your field of view and disappears within 30 minutes.
A flickering blind spot in the center or near the center of your field of view
A wavy or zigzag ring of colored light surrounding a central blind spot
A blind spot that slowly migrates across your visual field
The symptoms of a visual migraine typically affect both eyes and last less than 30 minutes. A migraine headache may occur shortly after the symptoms of a visual migraine subside or no headache may occur.
If you’re experiencing a blind spot or other visual disturbance and you’re not sure if it’s an ocular migraine or a visual migraine , cover one eye at a time. If the visual disturbance affects just one eye, it’s probably an ocular migraine. If it affects both eyes, it’s likely a visual migraine.
What Causes Ocular And Visual Migraines
The exact cause of an ocular migraine can be difficult to pinpoint. But it’s believed they occur for the same things that cause migraine headaches.
Migraine headaches have a genetic basis, and some studies say that up to 70% of people who suffer from the disorder have a family history of migraine.
According to the World Health Organization , migraines are caused by the activation of a mechanism deep in the brain that leads to release of pain-producing inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.
Studies have shown changes in blood flow to the brain during ocular migraines and migraine auras . But exactly why this happens remains unclear.
Common migraine “triggers” that can cause a person to have a migraine attack include:
Stress and lack of sleep also can trigger an ocular migraine or visual migraine.
You May Like: Does Cream Of Tartar Work For Migraines
What Are The ‘red Flags’ That My Visual Symptoms Are Not Due To Migraine
The typical symptoms of a visual migraine are positive, meaning that there is something shimmering or sparkling that is disrupting the vision. Migraines are less likely to cause “negative” symptoms of pure visual darkness. An episode of visual darkness typically requires additional evaluation for other conditions, including a mini-stroke .
Are Ocular Migraines Harmful
In general, ocular migraines are not considered harmful. Most people have no symptoms other than blindness or blind spots. Neither retinal migraines nor full ocular migraines are, in and of themselves, harmful. However, in some cases, retinal or ocular migraines may be a sign of a more serious problem. If you have a retinal or ocular migraine, its important to consult with a doctor as soon as possible to undergo an evaluation and ensure your symptoms dont signal a larger problem.
Most of the time, ocular migraines are not caused by actual visual symptoms nor is their trigger within the eye. Instead, they are caused by migraine activity within the visual cortex of the brain.
You May Like: Does Aspartame Cause Headaches
Summary Of Retinal Migraines
Retinal migraines are a subtype of migraine associated with monocular vision symptoms. Patients suspected of having retinal migraine should be carefully assessed by their doctor for an underlying cause. To help distinguish retinal migraine from migraine with typical aura, it is important that people carefully assess whether there vision symptoms are perceived in one or both eyes by alternating looking through either eye. The distinction between retinal migraine and migraine with typical aura has ramifications for treatment choices as well as prognosis counselling.
What To Do In The Event Of An Ocular Migraine
The American Heart Association publishes that migraine aura and visual disturbances occur about 20 percent of the time in the event of a migraine and can be a possible risk factor for ischemic stroke. Research findings show that if you suffer from migraine with aura, you are more than two times more likely to suffer from a blood clot or mass that clogs the blood vessel and leads to an ischemic stroke.
An ocular migraine can interfere with blood vessels in the brain, which in turn may raise the odds for clots and strokes. For this reason, if you suffer from ocular migraines, you should contact your health care provider to get it checked out and ensure that your risk factors are identified and addressed.
When suffering from an ocular migraine, it is important to take care of yourself. Try to manage the pain and symptoms as best you can. This may include:
- Moving to a quiet and dark room.
- Laying down and resting your eyes.
- Drinking a lot of water.
- Placing a cool compress on your head.
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or anti-nausea medications.
Try to stay still in a safe place while the visual headache passes. Don’t attempt to read, drive, or do anything else that requires extreme focus, concentration, or visual attention.
You May Like: Headache Type Quiz
Do I Have Migraine With Aura Or Ocular Migraine
Living with migraines can be both painful and unpredictable. But there are ways of managing triggers and symptoms, to alleviate the disruption a migraine attack has on your day-to-day.
One of the first steps is to understand more about your condition what type of migraine you tend to suffer from, for example, and what may be causing them for you.
After all, there can be a great deal of overlap between different migraine types and confusing medical information online can muddy the waters and leave migraine sufferers feeling lost at sea.
Whether you think you have migraine with aura a common type of migraine, affecting around 25% of migraine patients or the rarer ocular migraine, this article will help you understand and take control of your condition.
Can Anxiety Cause Ocular Migraines
Ocular migraines are often referred to as a visual headache. Its when you experience a migraine with visual disturbances such as blind spots, shimmering stars, blind spots, and zigzag patterns.
Many wonder can anxiety cause ocular migraines? Well, scientists still dont know exactly what causes ocular migraines. However, they do know about things that can trigger them.
Also Check: What Type Of Migraine Do I Have Quiz
Do Ocular Migraines Have A Risk Of Stroke
As we described above there is a momentary interruption of blood flow and electrical activity followed by a big increase and webmd states that this does come with an increased risk of stroke.
Its only logical to suppose that if the brain went through this process of being choked up that there might be a risk of transient ischemic attack which is a temporary loss of oxygen but this doesnt cause permanent damage like a stroke may.
Causes Of Ocular Migraine
An ocular or ophthalmic migraine is hold your breath a painless migraine! These are, however, associated with visual disturbances in both eyes. You may experience flickering or flashing lights, lines, stars, or blind spots that deter your vision. About 35 percent of migraine sufferers experience this kind of an aura, visual or otherwise. A painless migraine such as an ocular migraine is considered a migraine equivalent.1
Also Check: Why Do Migraines Go Away After Vomiting
How Do You Stop Visual Aura
Migraine With Aura Treatment When youre having a migraine with aura, stay in a quiet, dark room. Try putting cold compresses or pressure on the painful areas. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen may help.
Diagnosis Of Retinal Migraine
There are no diagnostic tests to confirm retinal migraine. Diagnosis is accomplished by reviewing the patients personal and family medical history, studying their symptoms, and conducting an examination. Retinal migraine is then diagnosed by ruling out other causes for the symptoms. With retinal migraine, it is essential that other causes of transient blindness, such as stroke of the eye , be fully investigated and ruled out. Seeing an eye doctor for a full eye exam is generally required for a good look at the back of the eyes.
You May Like: Powder Medicine For Headache
How Common Are Ocular Migraines
They are more common in women and have a genetic link to them.
Its always more important to focus on the epigenetic and exposomic links because you can change those and they will affect your health far more.
Below is a great video representation of the migraine aura as it grows.
Ocular Migraine Treatments And Prevention
Except for the auras, the development of migraines is quite unpredictable. However, environmental and other physical factors that trigger episodes of the disorder can be controlled to reduce the chances of migraine occurrence. First, you need to keep a clear record of your visual disturbance episodes in order to identify possible triggers specific to you.
If medications or contraceptives are the likely precipitants for your migraines, consider talking to your doctor about changing the dosage, or stopping the drug. You can also choose another method of contraception that is less likely to affect your health, with the help of a qualified health care provider.
Adequate nutrition with abstinence from caffeine and smoking can also be effective in preventing visual headaches. However, smoking withdrawal may cause severe side effects and requires the guidance of trained personnel.
Sleep disorders such as insomnia are significant triggers of migraines. Having enough rest is therefore key in ensuring youre free of the attacks.
Other therapies such as natural supplements can resolve or prevent the symptoms of migraines, but you need to discuss the possible side effects with your doctor.
You May Like: Migraine Pills Side Effects
Ocular Migraine Triggers And Treatments
Triggers of ocular migraines can include caffeine, chocolate, red wine, blue cheese, nuts, and processed meats. Stress or release of tension, bright lights, and exercise can also be triggers.
Treatments are often unnecessary because the visual disturbance only lasts for a short time, and the headaches arent severe. Some people find that taking an aspirin at the onset of their symptoms can prevent the headache altogether. While caffeine can cause eye migraines in some people, for others sipping a small amount of a caffeinated beverage can stop the symptoms.
It is important to stop driving if you experience any visual effects. If these symptoms last more than an hour, this can be a sign of something more serious, and you should seek medical attention immediately.
Is Retinal Migraine Dangerous
Most often, a retinal migraine attacks will subside after a short time with no lasting harm, though it can affect your ability to drive safely.
Still, its worth discussing with your doctor and potentially getting an eye examination to look into potential causes and rule out more serious concerns, such as a stroke in the eye.
If its never happened before, losing vision in both eyes at the same time may also be a sign of a more serious problem.
Your head may start to hurt at the same time a retinal migraine affects your vision or up to 1 hour later, or you may not experience a headache at all.
The same is true for the more common migraine with aura.
Retinal migraine is considered relatively rare. Its more common for a different type of migraine to affect vision in both eyes, not just one.
Older research from 2005 puts the frequency at about
Also Check: Do Daith Piercings Help With Migraines
About Dr Donald Mccormack
As an ophthalmologist, Dr. McCormack diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, prescribes eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems, and performs a wide range of clinical procedures and more complicated eye surgeries. He has special interests in treatments for dry eyes and glaucoma and has been a principal investigator in numerous clinical research trials for these conditions.
- For an appointment, call
This article is not intended to substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician.
What Is An Ocular Migraine
A migraine that takes place in the eye and causes visual disturbances is known as ocular migraine or migraine of the eye. Also known as optical migraine, an ocular migraine can manifest as a variety of different visual disturbances. They can be frightening, but in most cases, they are harmless and short-lived, and the eyesight goes back to normal afterward.
It is a common occurrence, especially for those who experience an aura before the migraine. This condition is characterized by temporary vision loss or even temporary blindness in one eye.
Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms of ocular migraine include:
- Zigzag lines
- Bright flashes of light
- Shadows in the vision
- Scotomas or blind spots
- Scintillations or sparkling, usually of lights or stars but can also be blind spots
For some people, ocular migraines can be painless. They can also occur with or follow a migraine headache. An ocular migraine is different from an aura as it typically occurs in one eye and lasts only a few minutes to an hour. Ocular migraines can affect your ability to perform tasks like reading, writing, or driving. Luckily, the symptoms are temporary, and an ocular migraine is not considered a dangerous condition.
Ocular Migraines And Aura
There are two types of migraines that are referred to as ocular migraines. Some people refer to migraines with auras as ocular migraines.
Some people experience an aura approximately 10 to 30 minutes before a migraine sets in. Aura symptoms can include:
- numbness or tingling in the hands or face
- feeling mentally foggy or fuzzy
- disrupted sense of touch, taste, or smell
- seeing blind spots, shimmering spots, flashing lights, or zig-zag lines
Not all people with migraines will experience auras.
Ocular migraines may also refer to eye-related migraines that come with visual disturbances that may or may not come with a headache pain. These are known as ophthalmic migraines. Ocular migraines can include some or all of the aura symptoms listed above. Ocular migraines are typically the result of migraine activity in the visual cortex of the brain.
What Are Ocular Migraines
The term ocular migraine is used to describe a migraine that takes place in the eye. These migraines can manifest as a variety of different visual disturbances including:
- Zigzag lines
- Bright flashes of light
- Scotomas or blind spots
- Scintillations or sparkling, usually of lights or stars but can also be blind spots
These are the most common symptoms of an ocular migraine, but the visual disturbance caused by this type of migraine can manifest as anything from shadows in the vision to a complete but temporary loss of vision in the eye.
What makes an ocular migraine different from an aura is that it typically only occurs in one eye and lasts only a few minutes to an hour. They are also not followed by an actual migraine headache .
Don’t Miss: Does Daith Piercing Really Work For Migraines