Ocular Migraines: Symptoms Causes And Treatment
Ocular migraines are non-permanent, visual disturbances that can have an effect on either one or both of your eyes. Such migraines are usually painless and will sometimes lead to blindness in one eye for a short time usually less than an hour. It is a rare problem, and researchers suggest that its symptoms will manifest as a result of other issues.
However, regular ocular migraine attacks can lead to other vision problems referred to as an aura, which involves flashing lights and blind spots. Other terms that are used to describe ocular migraines include eye migraines, ophthalmic migraines, or retinal migraines. This type of a migraine can interfere with your ability to perform specific functions such as driving, reading, and writing.
What Are The Side Effects Of Migraine Treatment
Preventive medication does not always stop the headaches completely and medications may lead to certain side-effects.
- Topiramate may cause diarrhoea, nausea, weight loss, memory difficulties and concentration problems.
- Triptans can cause sleepiness, tingling sensations, tightness in the throat and chest, flushing.
- Ergotamines can cause nausea,
- Beta-blockers can cause depression, fatigue, nausea, low blood pressure, dizziness
- Calcium channel blockers can lead to constipation, weight gain, low blood pressure, dizziness
- Tricyclic antidepressants can cause to dry mouth, weight gain, low libido, sedation
Eye Conditions That Trigger Blurry Vision And Migraines
An American Migraine Study conducted in 1999 says that in the U.S., 38 million people are living with migraines, out of which 44% people suffer from migraines due to vision changes and blurred vision.
Its normal for our vision to deteriorate as we age. However, not many people realize that their eyesight may have gone from bad to worse with age.
When we have trouble seeing, we may either squint or hold things too far or too close to them. While doing so, we may weaken our eye muscles and nerves without the slightest inkling that we may be having a bad eyesight.
The result can be blurry vision and migraine. Read on to understand what cause migraines that are vision related.
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What Causes Ocular Migraines
Theyre thought to originate in a similar way as migraine headaches, by irregular electrical activity in the brain. Genetics play a role in who experiences migraines, and theyre also more common in women. Potential triggers include certain MSG-containing foods, harsh light, stress and changes in weather.
Although the root cause is the same, it is not known why some people experience migraine pain after visual disturbances and others dont or why the same person might experience both on different occasions.
It is quite common that as women get older, they might have fewer headaches and less pain but more of these auras, Dr. Estemalik says.
Is Your Headache Caused By Eye Strain
To tell if your headache is caused by eye strain or not, remove the triggers that are straining your eyes. If your headache dissipates once the triggers that cause eye strain are removed, your headache was likely caused by eye strain. If you have systematically removed factors that cause eye strain and you still experience severe headaches, its time to see a doctor.
You should see your doctor about your headaches if they:
- Occur frequently or regularly.
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Compromised Blood Supply To Auditory System
According to a study conducted by researchers at Assiut University Hospital in Egypt, there is a correlation between migraines and hearing loss. Out of 58 migraine sufferers, two-thirds had one or more abnormalities with their cochlea function and auditory pathways. Researchers need to conduct more studies to determine exactly how migraines can cause hearing loss. However, these particular researchers hypothesized that the abnormalities could be a result of compromised blood supply to the auditory system during migraine attacks.
Other researchers support these claims. According to a study published by JAMA Neurology, migraines can damage the small hairs in the inner ear. These hairs convert sound vibrations into electrical signals sent to the brain. If the hairs dont receive an adequate supply of blood, they can eventually become damaged and die. During a migraine, a vasospasm of the labyrinthine arteries can cut off the supply of blood to the auditory system. This can lead to gradual, yet permanent hearing loss.
Symptoms Of An Ocular Migraine
The International Headache Society has defined the symptoms that are typical of a retinal or ocular migraine. These symptoms are monocular , temporary, and include:
- Scintillations:;seeing something that looks like flash of light, lightning, or a sparkle. Halos or lines may also be seen.
- Scotoma: a temporary blind spot, black spot, blurriness, or a partial loss of vision.
- Blindness: partial or complete blindness in one eye.
- Migraine headache:;The symptoms in the eye are accompanied by a headache that can last from a few hours to a few days. The headache is often located on the same side of the head as the eye that is experiencing symptoms.
- Other: Symptoms that typically occur with a migraine may also occur, such as light sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting.
Other types of migraines can cause visual problems, especially flashes of light and blind spots in the field of vision. The important distinction is that with an ocular migraine, these symptoms only occur in one eye.
It can be difficult to determine which eye is experiencing the symptoms, or if they are taking place in both eyes. A qualified healthcare professional can help determine the location of the symptoms while they are occurring.
If the symptoms cant be assessed at that time, a patient may try covering one eye. With one eye covered, it may be easier to tell which eye is affected, or if the problem is occurring in both eyes.
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Symptoms Of Peripheral Vision Loss
Symptoms of peripheral vision loss may develop slowly or suddenly, depending on its cause. Symptoms of peripheral vision loss include:
- Bumping into objects
- Difficulty navigating crowded spaces, such as in shopping centers or at events
- Being unable to see well in the dark, a condition known as night blindness
- Difficulty driving, particularly at night
These symptoms can develop in just one eye or in both eyes. They can be the result of sudden loss of peripheral vision or gradual loss.
Anyone experiencing a gradual onset of these symptoms should make an appointment with an eye doctor. Anyone experiencing sudden loss of peripheral vision should seek emergency medical care, as this may be a sign of a detached retina that needs prompt treatment to avoid permanent vision loss.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Migraine
There are a few signs and symptoms in accordance with migraines.
- Pulsatile headaches or throbbing, with moderate pain that intensifies and becomes severe with either movement or physical activity.
- Localized or unilateral pain in the ocular and frontotemporal area, the pain can be felt around the head or neck.
- Headache lasting for 4-72 hours
- Light-headedness, sensitivity to sound and light, progressive pain built up.
- Sensitivity to sound, light and odours
- Vomiting, feeling sick
- Disturbed vision
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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
Causes Of Ocular Migraines
Some scientists think that ocular migraines are caused by or triggered by inflammatory substances released in the tissues surrounding the circulatory and nerve system of thehead and brain.
Ocular migraines may be due to stress and fatigue – the same probable causes of migraine headaches. Learn more about migraine headaches, computer eye-fatigue. These related causes can include improper glasses and other conditionssuch as hypertension, sinus conditions, tumors, hormonal changes, certain foods such as alcohol, aged cheese, MSG or chocolate, or other allergies rather than due to problems related to the eyes.
Other causes include being female, being younger than 40, and people with a family history of migraines or other headaches. Additionally, people with diseases such as lupus, hardening of the arteries, sickle cell disease, epilepsy, or depression are at greater risk.
For some people low blood sugar , bending over or being at high altitude can cause ocular migraines. Hormonal birth control pills are another possible cause.
An ocular migraine can appear simultaneously with a migraine headache.
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What Do Visual Disturbances Look Like
- Black spots, threads, wiggly lines that float across your vision. We call these floaters. This visual disturbance can occur with or without flashes of light.;
- Patches of shimmering light or flashing lights.
- Psychedelic colours, distorted colours and shapes, or kaleidoscope vision.
- Zig-zag patterns or dark spots in your vision.
These are all associated with visual aura of migraine.
How To Better Prevent Vision Loss
You should schedule an appointment for:
- Regular eye examinations: These can detect any vision problems as soon as they arise, so that any needed treatment can begin as soon as possible.
- Annual physical examinations: These can detect problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or autoimmune diseases so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.
- Discussion to get help with smoking cessation
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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 Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine
Migraines affect people in different ways but the most commonly described symptoms are;
- Throbbing pain or pulsing sensation on one side of the head
- Severe pain typically lasting 4 72 hours
- Aura occuring for 10 30 minutes, up to one hour before the migraine pain starts
- Extreme sensitivity to light, noise and sometimes to smell and/or touch
- Vomiting and/or nausea
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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.
How Are Eye Floaters Treated
Even if floaters are annoying, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will not treat mild cases. You should still report floaters to your eye doctor, so they can monitor your eyes for conditions like a torn retina.
When you report eye floaters to your doctor, they will ask you various questions, including:
- When you first noticed the floaters.
- What the floaters look like, including shape, movement, and when they occur.
- What refractive error you have, especially nearsightedness, and how serious it is.
- Whether the floaters occur in one or both eyes.
- Whether they are accompanied by other symptoms like flashes of light.
- Whether your eyes have other symptoms like redness, pain, or blurry vision.
- Whether you have ever taken certain medications or had certain eye surgeries.
- Whether you have a history of certain eye diseases or have had some types of injuries.
You may have some tests during an eye exam so your optometrist or ophthalmologist can diagnose any potential cause of the eye floaters. If you have enough eye floaters that your vision is impacted, or you have an underlying condition that requires treatment, you may receive one of two surgeries.
What Causes An Ocular Migraine
Doctors believe that ocular migraines have similar causes as migraine headaches. The World Health Organization says that there is also a genetic link to a migraine. Studies show that over 70 percent of people who experience the disorder have a family history of ocular migraines.
Migraines are usually triggered by activation of specific mechanisms deep within the brain which releases numerous inflammatory substances around the blood vessels and the nerves of the brain. However, medical scientists are still unable to determine the primary cause of these changes. Imaging studies have revealed that changes occur in blood flow to the brain during ocular migraines, but experts are yet to establish the underlying cause of these rapid changes.
Statistics also indicate that this condition mostly affects adults who are in their 30s or 40s but they start experiencing the state in their early ages and may pass it down to their children. Women are three times more likely to be affected than male adults.
Migraines have also been linked to hormone estrogen which controls chemicals in the brain that usually affect the sensation of pain. Women tend to experience frequent hormone fluctuations due to the menstrual cycle, menopause, and pregnancy. Hormone levels also tend to be affected by the use of oral contraceptives and other hormone replacement therapies which tend to increase their risk of being attacked by ocular migraines.
Which Medicine Is Best For Migraine
If ordinary painkillers are not relieving migraine headaches, a medication termed Triptan may need to be taken in addition to other painkillers and anti-sickness medicines. These are specific drugs for migraine headaches by bringing about some changes in the brain. In migraine, blood vessels widen to cause a specific type of headache and Triptans are known to narrow these vessels. This drug is available as tablets, injections and nasal sprays.
Similarly, anti-emetics can successfully treat migraine even if one did not experience vomiting. They act best when taken immediately after experiencing migraine symptoms. Usually, they come in the form of a tablet but may also be available as a suppository. Side-effects can be drowsiness and diarrhoea.
Combination medicines are also available for managing migraine. However, a disadvantage of this medicine is that the dosages of either the painkiller or the antiemetic may not be high enough in the combination medicine to relieve the symptoms. In such cases, its better to take painkiller and anti-emetics separately rather than as a combination so as to be able to relieve the symptoms effectively.
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What Are Home Remedies For Migraines
Causes Of Visual Migraines
Some researchers believe ocular migraines are caused by changes or spasms in the retinal blood vessels or nerves, however the exact cause is still unknown.
Most eye doctors believe they are caused by the same factors that lead to classic migraines, including:
- Family history of migraines
- Foods containing nitrates, MSG, or tyramine
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