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
- 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 .
What Causes Ocular Migraine
Migraine aura is considered to be a result of abnormal electrical activity involving certain regions of the cortex of the brain. This abnormal activity spreads across the cortex at a slow rate of about 3mm per minute and this spread is responsible for the growth and movement of the visual disturbance over the 20-60 minutes that the visual aura lasts. Retinal migraine may be due to the same type of disturbance except occurring at the back of the eye in the retina, or it may be due to a reduction in blood flow to the retina.
Like other types of migraine, harsh lights and electronic screens can be triggers. Straining your eyes by staring at a screen for long periods of time, spending time in fluorescent or other harsh lighting, driving long distances and other taxing visual activities can increase your risk for attacks. Talk to your eye doctor about how to avoid attacks.
What Does An Ocular Migraine Feel Like
An ocular migraine begins with a sparkling and shimmering area that has a jagged border and that gradually spreads outward. It causes a small blinding spot that enlarges and blocks your vision temporarily. The brightness begins at the edge of your field of vision and gradually spreads to your line of vision. Zigzag lines or stars may also be seen. It is almost like looking through a broken window. Scotoma is the area where vision is disrupted and the whole episode is called a positive aura.
An ocular migraine is often referred to differently by different experts. While many call it a visual migraine or a typical aura without headache, the International Headache Society classifies such a migraine as a silent or acephalgic migraine.
Though it seems serious since you lose your vision partially, the condition is usually harmless and will resolve on its own within 2030 minutes without any medical intervention. Complete visual darkness, or a negative aura, is not a symptom of an ocular migraine, but of some other underlying condition that needs to be investigated.2
Apart from visual disturbances, ocular migraines can also interfere with your speech. You may also feel tingling, weakness, or numbness in your hands and legs, experience size or space distortions, or feel confused. All of these, however, are rare.3
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Caffeines Influence On Health
Coffee consumption is associated with a number of health benefits in men and women. In an umbrella review, Grosso et al. demonstrated that caffeine was associated with a decreased risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality, and Parkinsons disease but an increased risk of pregnancy loss . On the other hand, coffee was linked with a rise in serum lipids and blood pressure. Overall, they concluded that coffee can be part of a healthful diet . A number of epidemiological studies confirmed a link between higher coffee consumption and better performance on cognitive tests in older adults, and an inverse relationship exists between coffee consumption and the risk of developing Parkinsons or Alzheimers disease and a lower risk of stroke. Interestingly, regular coffee consumption does not affect patients with epilepsy . It is reported that caffeine can enhance awareness, attention, and reaction time by stimulating wakefulness, increasing concentration, and decreasing the sensation of fatigue, but also may disturb sleep quality . Moreover, caffeine in low doses can improve mood states and decreases the risk of depression and suicide .
What Is An Ocular Migraine
An ocular migraine is a rare condition characterized by temporary vision loss or even temporary blindness in one eye. Ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye.
In an ocular migraine, vision in the affected eye generally returns to normal within an hour. Ocular migraines can be painless or they can occur along with a migraine headache. Ocular migraines are also called retinal migraines.
Unfortunately, “ocular migraine” often is used to describe a much more common condition called a visual migraine or migraine aura.
Visual migraines also cause temporary vision disturbances. But the vision problems caused by visual migraines affect both eyes, not just one eye, and tend to be somewhat shorter usually around 20 minutes in duration.
Now, lets take a closer look at ocular migraines and visual migraines .
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Causes Of Migraines With Aura
The cause of migraines with aura isnt fully understood.2 Like migraines without aura they are considered a neurovascular disorder. As nerve cell activity increases within the brain, inflammatory chemicals are released, causing swelling of the cranial blood vessels. As the blood vessels swell, they activate the surrounding pain receptors, which ultimately transmit pain signals to the brain.3
Migraines with aura seem to be triggered by many of the same things that can bring on migraine without aura, including:2
- Bright lights
- Hormonal changes such as during menstruation
- Changes in altitude or air pressure
- Issues with sleep lack of, or too much
Read more about what causes migraines.
Caffeine Light Flashes And Blurred Vision
The most commonly reported visual disturbance is the retinal migraine, also known as an ocular, visual, or eye migraine. This is different from the classic migraine, which is a visual aura followed by a migraine headache.
Retinal migraine signs and symptoms:
- Area of blocked, grey or white vision with scintillating broken shards of glass flashing lights,
- starts small in an area and seems to expand until finally dissipating,
- lasts from 5 to 20 minutes,
- usually in one eye, but often cant tell if it is one or both eyes,
- may happen multiple times in one day.
The causes of ocular migraines are controversial. Most sources indicate that it is thought to be a vasospasm of a retinal blood vessel. The decrease in blood flow to the retina results in the light flashes and areas of transient vision loss.
Triggers for retinal migraines are varied, from emotional, physical, or chemical:
- Caffeine: caffeinated drinks and chocolate,
- hypoglycemia ,
- changing to a higher altitude, and/or
- exercise with overheating and dehydration.
Retinal migraines can cause you to be alarmed. They have no known long-term consequences. If these occur frequently, consider lifestyle and dietary changes. If making changes does not help, consider a medical evaluation for health-related concerns.
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Treating Migraines With Aura
The treatment for migraine with aura is the same as for migraine without aura. It is generally recommended to take your migraine medication at the first sign of migraine symptoms. These could include over-the-counter painkillers or prescription drugs such as triptans or dihydroergotamines.6
Sometimes you may need a combination of drugs for effective pain relief. For example, Excedrin Migraine is a doctor-recommended, over-the-counter remedy combining acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine that helps stop migraine pain quickly. You may also require anti-nausea drugs if your migraine symptoms include nausea or vomiting. These can also help you keep down your other medicines.6
Many people find it helps to wait out the migraine in a dim, quiet room, away from obtrusive lights and sounds. You could also try placing an ice pack or cool, damp cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck for a soothing effect.6
In addition to pain-relieving medications designed to stop migraine symptoms once they start, your doctor may recommend you take preventative drugs to try to reduce your migraine frequency and severity overtime. These take longer to take effect, but can be useful if short-term, acute treatments are not working.6 Talk to your doctor about your migraines and treatment options.
Read more about treatment options for migraines.
Migraine Aura Causes: Symptoms Treatment And Remedies
An aura caused by migraine, silent or an ocular migraine usually involves some kind of troubles with vision. This blurry vision or flashes of light usually affect both eyes at the same time. The difference between this type of aura and the classical one is that most of the time it is not accompanied by the throbbing pain in the temples.
However, patients usually suffer from a lot of other irritating symptoms that usually last for an hour or so. These symptoms are not serious however they can affect the quality of the patients life. Read on to learn more about migraine aura causes.
An ocular migraine with blurred vision affects both eyes and can cause troubles with reading, writing, driving and working on a computer. A retinal migraine is another type that usually affects only one eye and is a much more serious condition.
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Treating Migraine Aura Without Headache
When migraine aura without headache is frequent or severe, your doctor can recommend treatment options, such as low dose aspirin, calcium channel blockers or other medications.
My favorite treatment has been baby aspirin, if they dont have any contraindication for baby aspirin, says Dr. Digre. Calcium channel blockers often will treat aura without headache if its frequent.
For people who experience onset of migraine aura later in life, the symptoms can be very severe and last for several days. In that case, Dr. Digre usually prescribes a calcium channel blocker, but other medications can be used.
There arent any specific lifestyle adjustments to treat migraine aura without headache. However, taking steps like getting adequate sleep, decreasing stress and avoiding known migraine triggers may help prevent aura without headache.
The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.
Migraines With Aura Cause Some Migraine Sufferers To See Geometric Patterns And Shiny Waves Heres What You Need To Know About This Type Of Migraine
The most well-known phase of a migraine is the headache phase. However, for about 10% to 30% of migraine sufferers, the head pain comes with some very distinct warning signs, commonly called an aura.
A migraine aura is a neurological phenomenon most commonly associated with visual disturbances before the onset of a headache. You may see things like zig zag lines, flashing lights, or other visual effects before your migraine begins.
However, some auras may involve sensory symptoms or speech and language disturbances.1,2
Read on to find out more about the causes and symptoms of this common type of migraine and learn how you can get relief when it does strike.
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Migraines Can Be Managed With Proper Care And Treatment
In the United States alone, strokes account for nearly140,000 deaths every single year. If you or a loved one are experiencing a stroke, seek immediate medical attention to prevent long-term damage and disability. According to the CDC, Patients who arrive at the emergency room within 3 hours of their first symptoms often have less disability 3 months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.
Understanding your migraines and your specific migraine triggers may help you avoid or at least minimize the occurrence of these disorienting episodes. However, even with the most robust prevention, migraines will still occur for many sufferers. With the inherent elevated stroke risk associated with all migraines , its crucial to know how to recognize the symptomatic discrepancies between the two, and act fast if faced with a potential stroke.
If you or a loved one has experienced a stroke, you know that it can have a significant impact on ones life. Here at Saebo, we are committed to stroke support and recovery to improve the overall quality of life for all survivors and their families.Saebo offers a wide range of products that combine cutting-edge technology with evidence-based rehabilitation techniques. Our offerings and network of Saebo-trained therapists can help you or a loved one to obtain all the necessary tools to maximize stroke recovery.
What Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain
For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:
- an acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.
If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.
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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.
A New Study About Coffee And Migraines: How Much Is Too Much
In a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers asked 98 people with migraines to keep a diet diary that included how often they consumed caffeinated beverages . This information was compared with how often they had migraines. Heres what they found:
- The odds of having a migraine increased for those drinking three or more caffeinated beverages per day, but not for those consuming one to two servings per day the effect lasted through the day after caffeine consumption.
- It seemed to take less caffeine to trigger a headache in those who didnt usually have much of it. Just one or two servings increased the risk of migraine in those who usually had less than one serving per day.
- The link between caffeine consumption and migraine held up even after accounting for other relevant factors such as alcohol consumption, sleep, and physical activity.
Interestingly, the link was observed regardless of whether the study subject believed that caffeine triggered their headaches.
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Brain Function And Blood Flow
Some research suggests that a temporary disturbance in brain function, or cortical spreading depression , may be linked to migraine with aura.
CSD can disrupt the brains electrical impulses and, in turn, decrease blood flow to the part of the brain that deals with visual perception. However, scientists still do not fully understand why people with migraine with aura experience spontaneous CSD or how to prevent it.
One 2010 study also states that changes in blood flow to the brain may be the cause of migraine and stroke in certain people.
It is possible that a person who develops an increasing number of migraine with aura episodes may have experienced some change that affects blood flow to their brain.
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.
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How Are Migraines Diagnosed
Your doctor can diagnose migraines by the symptoms you describe. If the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor will perform a physical exam. Your doctor might want to do blood tests or imaging tests, such as an MRI or CAT scan of the brain. These tests can help ensure there are no other causes for the headache. You may also be asked to keep a headache journal. This can help your doctor identify the things that might cause your migraines.
If headache pain is getting in the way of your daily activities, its time to see your family doctor. Read More
How To Determine Your Food Triggers
Similarly to how peoples bodies can respond differently to various medications, they often respond differently to foods as well. So while alcohol and nitrates may trigger migraines in many people, different types of foods may trigger migraines in other people.
If you have certain food sensitivities, then eating those foods can also trigger migraines. The food intolerance isnt the cause of the migraine, but it can make the migraine worse, or bring it on.
For some people, figuring out what foods if any trigger a migraine can be very obvious. For others, it might be trickier. The good news is that with a little determination and patience, you can get to the bottom of whether certain food triggers are a feature of your migraines or not.
The most common way of doing this is to keep a food and symptom diary. This involves carefully tracking factors that may have been at play when a migraine hit. When you feel it coming on, try logging what you ate or drank, how much sleep you got, if you were on your menstrual cycle, and how often you were eating in the days leading up to it. This is detective work: Recording everything in as much detail as possible will help you determine potential associations and culprits. The longer you keep a food and symptom diary, the more likely you are to get the answers you seek.
The downside of this method is that it can be tedious, and it may take several months to notice a pattern, especially if your migraines are not very frequent.
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