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Can Migraines Cause Vision Loss

Chronic Eye Strain & Headaches

What causes eye pain with headache? – Dr. Sunita Rana Agarwal

When long-lasting eye strain leads to chronic headaches, it can be very disruptive to your daily life.

Fortunately, eye strain does not cause permanent damage or injury to the eye, and the condition can often be treated relatively easily. By making simple changes to your working, reading, and driving environments, you can likely address the issues that are straining your eyes and causing headaches.

AAO offers these tips to address eye strain:

  • Confirm your glasses or contacts are the correct prescription for your vision needs.
  • Use sunglasses when outside in bright light.
  • Use artificial tears to address dry eyes.
  • Adjust your computer screen so you must gaze slightly downward at it.
  • Use a humidifier to improve dry air quality.
  • Wear computer glasses to reduce the impact of blue light.

If you continue to experience eye strain and headaches after trying a variety of adjustments, it might be a good idea to see an ophthalmologist. Through an eye exam, your eye doctor can examine your eye muscles, assess for underlying eye or health problems, and confirm you are wearing the proper eyeglass or contact lens prescription. They may be able to identify the cause of your eye strain during this exam.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

The diagnosis of retinal migraine is one of exclusion and all other causes of vision loss should initially be considered. All members of the healthcare team should be vigilant and refer the patient for immediate and emergent assessment for stroke or other thromboembolic causes for their symptoms if the patient presents with visual loss or changes.  

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.

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.

What Are The Acute Treatments For Migraine

An isolated visual migraine, without headache, typically does not require any acute treatment, since the visual symptoms resolve on their own fairly quickly. The first few times someone experiences a visual migraine it usually causes a lot of anxiety. Once someone has become familiar with the symptoms of a visual migraine, new episodes no longer cause the same level of anxiety.

It can be helpful to try to rest during the episode. Some patients benefit from other strategies, including eating something, having caffeine, or taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .

Patients in whom the visual symptoms are accompanied by a severe headache often benefit from additional therapies. The goal of these medications is to try to cut short the headache before it becomes too severe. Some patients find naproxen , which is a stronger anti-inflammatory medication, to be helpful. Other patients try a class of medications known as triptans.

Triptans are specially designed to work on receptors on blood vessels and brain cells in order to halt a migraine at an early stage. Although there are a number of different triptans, made by several different pharmaceutical companies, each of these is approximately equally effective. Triptans are often taken orally, but also come as injections and nasal sprays. These medicines are generally not considered safe in patients with a history of strokes, heart attacks, or other vascular diseases.

How Can I Test My Peripheral Vision

9 Common Causes of Migraines

A doctor can perform a comprehensive peripheral vision test. There are different ways to determine the extent of a persons vision loss. Heres a look at three different approaches:

Automated perimetry: You sit in front of a dome and stare at an object in the center. You then press a button when you see small flashes of light.

Confrontation visual field: The doctor sits right in front of you. While covering one eye at a time, you stare straight ahead and the doctor asks you when you can see their hand moving in front of you.

Tangent screen or Goldman field: You sit about three feet away from a screen with a target in the middle. You stare at the target and tell the doctor when you see an object moving into your peripheral view.

There is no preparation for these tests and no after-effects. If test results are poor, it is likely that additional eye tests will be carried out. For example, there is a specific test to determine if glaucoma is the problem.

What Medications Treat Migraines

Drug therapy is mainly aimed at lessening pain during the early and generally most painful phases of migraine headaches. Those who have repeated migraine episodes may need long-term preventive therapy. The following drugs are used to quickly stop migraine headaches in progress. They are often called abortive drugs because they abort, or stop, the headache. These drugs are used only to treat headaches and do not help relieve problems like back pain, arthritis, or menstrual cramps. The first group of drugs is within the triptan class. Drugs in this class are all very similar in their action and chemical structure and target the brain chemical serotonin. If 2-3 of these drugs have been tried without success, it is unlikely that others within the class will help.

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.

The Abcs Of Ocular Migraines

Migraine sufferers, we see you . We hear you . We feel you . And we want to help.

Migraines are the worst. Theyre up there with root canals and income tax audits. One of the hardest things about migraines is determining the root cause, which is different for different people and identifying the individual triggers that bring one on in the first place.

Many people dont know it but migraines can actually impact vision. When this occurs, its called an ocular migraine.

Can Sunglasses Or Tinted Lenses Help With Photophobia And Migraine

What causes foggy vision in one eye with headache? – Dr. Sunita Rana Agarwal

Sunglasses are helpful for use in bright sunlight for most people. Sunglass wear indoors is also helpful for some patients while they are experiencing a headache, migraine or intense period of photophobia. However excess use of sunglasses, such as wearing them indoors under normal circumstances can be counterproductive. Excess wear can result in dark adaptation and dependency, this can result in pain being felt at lower levels of light than before.

FL-41 tinted spectacles have been successful in reducing migraine frequency in some studies.  The tint is a pinkish-boysenberry colour.  They have also been found to reduce feelings of photophobia between migraine attacks, but made no difference during migraine attacks. FL-41 tint filters out blue light, most likely found in fluorescent lights, reducing the flicker that people are often aware of.

What Are The Visual Changes Of Migraine

Changes in sight usually occur in both eyes, but sometimes in only part of the visual field.1 There are three general types of visual changes with migraine:1

  • Positive symptoms: This describes seeing something that is not really there, like shimmery zig-zag lines, sparkles, dots, or flashes.
  • Negative symptoms: This describes blind spots or tunnel vision.
  • Distorted or altered visual symptoms: This describes a sense of looking through water or colorful, cracked glass. Objects may appear too big or too small.

Ocular migraine is a medical term for a migraine that includes visual distortions.2 Ocular means connected to the eye. An ocular migraine may be classed as migraine with aura or retinal migraine. In retinal migraine, changes in vision only happen in 1 eye before or during the painful part of a migraine attack.2

What Can Trigger A Migraine

For many migraine sufferers, symptoms are often triggered by various stimuli or situations. These triggers can vary among migraineurs, but there are many common culprits.

Women between the ages of 20 and 45 are the demographic most likely to suffer from migraines, and women overall arethree times more likely to experience migraine headaches than men. This discrepancy between the sexes was once erroneously attributed to a perceived inability of women to cope with stress. Interestingly enough, in youth, boys are actually more likely to experience migraines than young girls. However, per theNashville Neuroscience Group, once menstruation begins, the fluctuation of hormones in women causes asubstantial increase in migraines. Stress can also play a substantial part in triggering symptoms; in a recent study, nearly 60 percent of participants listed stress as aprecipitating influence.

Other common migraine triggers are diet-related and may be avoided by employing restrictions. Migraines are routinely reported to betriggered by dairy, alcohol, chocolate, citrus fruits, and nuts, as well as by fasting. Certain types ofodors  may trigger migraines for some sufferers.Meteorological triggers related to low temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure are also important to note, although these stimuli are less frequently reported as triggers than the aforementioned factors.

How We Can Help

If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms of dizziness or feeling off-balance, contact Opto-mization NeuroVisual Performance for a consultation. Even if youve been told that your symptoms are stress-related, seasonal, or will fade on their own, having a functional visual evaluation can help rule out vision as being the root cause or contributing factor to your symptoms.

Its also important to note that not every optometrist is trained in this specialized field. Only a neuro-optometrist should assess and treat a post-TBI patient with neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy. We has the expertise and latest technology to provide you with the top-level care you deserve.

How To Treat It

Chronic Ocular Migraines

As mentioned earlier, the discomfort and problems that occur with ocular migraines usually pass within an hour. If the problem appears while you are performing tasks that require you to have clear vision then stop what you are doing and relax until it passes. Especially if you are driving stop your vehicle as soon and safe as possible and wait for your vision to get back to normal. Visit a professional in order to get your eyes properly checked and your doctor will help you and prescribe you medicines for treating and preventing any future occurrences. Try to remember what were you doing and ate, around the time the condition appeared, as in this way you may be able to find out more easily what exactly triggers your migraines. Many times the migraines can be stress-related, so a healthy way to prevent this from happening is eating a balanced and healthy diet, getting enough sleep and relaxing once in a while.

Why Are You More Sensitive To Light During A Migraine Or Headache

No one knows for sure, but if we look at the probable causes of migraine pain and photophobia, both processes stimulate the trigeminovascular system in the brain stem. It could be hypothesised that if this system is already stimulated by one of these two processes , it will need less of the second stimulus to achieve the same level of pain.

Photophobia is the word we use to describe when people have an increased sensitivity to light. This is when bright lights cause pain, that often feels like it is in or behind the eye. The exact translation of the word actually means fear of light.

Everyone is sensitive to light, but during a migraine your sensitivity to light can go off the chart. Migraines often force their sufferers into dark rooms. But once the migraine has passed, these afflicted individuals continue to be more sensitive to light than most.

Some interesting facts about photophobia;

Strategies For Coping With Migraines

As anyone who has ever experienced a migraine knows all too well, once that initial wave hits, the migraine symptoms will only progress over the following minutes and hours, if not days. Fortunately, there are many strategies available to help patients cope with these debilitating episodes.

Stress is one of the main causes of many migraines, therefore, attempts to minimize stress and general anxiety are sound initial steps for many individuals. However, relaxation can mean very different things to different individuals, so each migraineur must devise a relaxation regimen based on his or her preferences. Trigger coping mechanisms might involve measures as basic as taking a nap, reading a book, or soaking in a warm bath.

If these preliminary steps have failed to minimize migraine frequency or offer adequate relief for your migraine symptoms, it may be time to discuss options with your doctor. In fact, many individuals who suffer from migraines are prescribed medication to manage their symptoms. If you are prescribed a migraine medication, you should take your prescribed dose at the first sign of a headache.

When Should You Seek Treatment

Its important to be evaluated by a neuro-optometrist as early as possible following even a minor TBI. The sooner treatment begins, the greater the likelihood of success. That said, there is still hope for patients who suffer from symptoms caused by a head injury that occurred months or even years prior; we can still assess your situation and develop a course of treatment to help you recover now.

How To Tell If Youre Experiencing A Migraine Or A Stroke

Ocular Migraines

If you routinely experience migraines with or without aura, its paramount to understand the signs and symptoms of a potential stroke. As previously mentioned, many symptoms are identical across migraines, strokes, andtransient ischemic attacks . These shared symptoms include, but are not limited to, visual changes and disturbances, muscle fatigue, and impaired speech.

Before we dive into the key differences between migraines and strokes, lets first define positive and negative symptoms. Apositive symptom is the addition of a symptom, as a result of excess electrical discharges in your central nervous system . Positive symptoms include visual disturbances such as flashing lights, and motor disturbances such as muscle spasms. Conversely, negative symptoms are caused by a loss of CNS function and manifest as a negation of normal functionality. Typical negative symptoms include tunnel vision, hearing loss, and loss of motor control or numbness.

This distinction is important to functionally understand, because strokes normally produce negative symptoms, whereas migraines with aura normally produce positive symptoms. For example, common stroke side effects include numbness in the face or along one side of the body, trouble speaking, loss of balance, andblurred vision,according to the CDC. A migraine with aura, on the other hand, may cause the migraineur to see flashes of light, a visual zigzagging pattern, blinking lights, and dots.

When Vision Changes Could Mean Something Else

Sometimes vision changes mean something more serious than a migraine. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your doctor right away:1

  • New dark spots or floaters in one eye that do not go away
  • New flashes of light in 1 eye that do not go away
  • Periods of vision loss in 1 eye
  • Tunnel vision, loss of vision on 1 side, or periods of complete loss of vision without head pain

What Is A Migraine Trigger

Most migraine sufferers learn what their triggers are. A trigger is an action or event that tends to lead to the migraine starting. Sometimes a person needs to have a combination of triggers to occur before they get a migraine.

Some common triggers include:

  • Certain foods; such as red wine, chocolate, caffeine or aged cheese

For many sufferers, no trigger can be found.

Causes And Risk Factors

Although the exact physiology of retinal migraine is unknown, one theory is that it may result from vasospasm, a narrowing of vessels that supply blood to the retina or that are part of the ciliary body of the eye.

Whatever the mechanism, like all types of migraine headaches, retinal migraines tend to be brought on by specific triggers such as stress, high blood pressure, smoking, and more.

Retinal migraines, in particular, may be triggered by:

  • Staring at a screen for long periods
  • Spending time in fluorescent or other harsh lighting
  • Driving long distances or participating in other taxing visual activities

People believed to be at increased risk of retinal migraine headaches include those who:

  • Are in their 20s or 30sin particular women, due to hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle
  • Have a history of other types of migraine
  • Have a family history of migraine headache
  • Have lupus, atherosclerosis, or sickle cell disease

What Causes Ocular Migraines

Optical Migraine Symptoms: It

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.

How Long Does Retinal Migraine Last

The visual effects of a retinal migraine usually last no more than an hour.

Not all retinal migraine attacks come with a headache or nausea, but such symptoms may last longer potentially for more than a day.

Both children and adults of any age can experience retinal migraine. These tend to be more common in the following groups:

  • people under 40 years old
  • women
  • people with a family history of retinal migraine or headaches
  • people with a personal history of migraine or headaches

People with certain illnesses that impact the blood vessels and eyes may also be at risk. These illnesses include:

How Are Vision Changes With Migraine Treated

Many options exist to treat migraine with visual aura. Drugs, including calcium channel blockers, antiepileptics, or tricyclics, may work for those with occasional migraine.2 Some people find that quitting smoking helps. Others may need to stop taking birth control pills.

Controlling the environment may help some people with migraine and vision distortions. Suggestions include:

  • Turning off harsh or bright lights
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Reducing time in front of a computer and other electronic screens2

What Causes Vision Effects From Migraines

Nobody knows for sure how migraines are caused, although many contributing factors have been identified.

  • Family history


    Migraine headaches typically occur on one side of the head and cause throbbing pain, but the features often vary. Migraineurs often experience a bilateral event, meaning that the pain can be felt anywhere around the head or neck.

    A majority of migraineurs experience early symptoms. Forewarning of a migraine may occur hours to days before a headache event. Although the specific symptoms vary, they tend to remain the same for a given individual over time. These warning symptoms may include the following:

    Some migraineurs experience aura. Aura is defined as focused symptoms that grow over 5-15 minutes and generally last about an hour. In most cases, the migraine headache follows the aura. However, the two events can happen at the same time, or the aura may develop after the headache starts. With aura, visual symptoms are most common and include the following:

    Motor symptoms like hemiparesis and aphasia may occur but much less frequently.

    Some people have auras only, without headaches. Treatment is usually unnecessary once the diagnosis is recognized and the migraineur reassured about it. If the aura always occurs on the same side, the risk of brain tumor or other abnormality is greater than in persons with routine headaches.

    Typical headache characteristics are as follows:

    Pearls And Other Issues

    Effects of Migraine on Vision
    • A retinal migraine a rare phenomenon that usually affects monocular vision transiently.
    • Duration of symptoms on average is 5 to 20 minutes.
    • The prognosis for an ocular migraine is good.
    • The frequency and intensity of the headache typically decrease.
    • During prolonged periods of retinal, choroidal, or optic nerve hypoxia, permanent visual loss may occur.

    Can Migraines Cause Blurred Vision

    “I can see clearly now the rain is gone,” sang Johnny Nash back in the day, and many migraine patients will no doubt agree with him. That’s especially true for sufferers who experience visual disturbances during an attack. While a classic migraine accompanied by lights and patterns is usually a regular migraine with aura, many patients also develop other visual symptoms before, during or after an attack. These headaches are known as retinal, ophthalmic or ocular migraines, depending on the specific type and location of the symptoms.

    Is Your Eyesight Affected By Your Migraines And Headaches

    Many of us have had a migraine or a headache that was just so painful that it seemed to affect our eyesight. Though we may have just brushed it off as these vision symptoms being in our head, the truth is migraines and headaches have a significant impact on our eyesight.

    Headaches and migraines can cause temporary blindness among other symptoms. What causes this to happen during or after migraines and headaches is not known for sure, but experts have their theories.

    Before we get into how migraines and headaches can affect our vision, we need to first distinguish the differences between the two.

    How Headaches Affect Our Eyes

    The most common way a tension headache affects eyesight is by causing sensitivity to light, otherwise known as photophobia. This is why working on your computer feels more painful when you are experiencing a tension headache. Headaches will often cause your senses to be more delicate, which is why loud noises will also seem louder than normal.

    When you experience bothersome eyesight headaches, the best thing to do is to avoid bright lights. This will prevent any eye discomfort or eye pain that could follow prolonged exposure to bright lights while being so sensitive.


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