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Can Vision Problems Cause Migraines

Symptoms Of Retinal Migraine

How Migraines Affect Vision Medical Course

The symptoms of retinal migraine may include:

  • partial or total loss of vision in 1 eye this usually lasts 10 to 20 minutes before vision gradually returns
  • headache this may happen before, during or after the vision attack

It’s unusual for an episode of vision loss to last longer than an hour. The same eye is affected every time in almost all cases.

Vision may slowly become blurred or dimmed, or there may be flashes of light. Some people see a mosaic-like pattern of blank spots , which enlarge to cause total loss of vision.

What Is Eye Strain

Eye strain can produce eye discomfort and headaches, although it is uncommon and overrated as a cause of headache, especially headache associated with any function limiting activity. Eye strain is caused by improper focusing , or when the two eyes are not properly aligned. Children under school age rarely complain of headaches from eyestrain. The typical headache of eyestrain starts after using the eyes, especially for extended periods of time, such as long periods of time using the computer, reading, or even sewing. Any number of tasks that require you to use your eyes for a long time may lead to a headache. For these individuals, it is important to make sure that, if needed, they have the appropriate prescription of eyeglasses. If the discomfort is caused by eyestrain, then it will be relieved with lenses or by correcting the alignment of the eyes.

Your Eye Doctor In Wichita Discusses If Computer Vision Can Cause Headaches And Migraines

Staring at a computer, tablet or phone screen for long periods of time can leave your eyes feeling tired and strained, but it can also cause other symptoms. This condition, called computer vision or digital eye strain, can give you headaches or migraines. Knowing more about this condition and how to prevent it can help ease these symptoms.

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What Causes Visual 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 a brain tumor or other abnormality is greater than in persons with routine headaches.

    Typical headache characteristics are as follows:

    Physical examination findings

    Diagnosing And Treating Ocular Migraines

    Could Eye Problems Be Causing Your Headaches?

    When you visit your doctor, they will ask about your symptoms, examine your eyes, and order additional tests to rule out other serious conditions such as:

    • Amaurosis fugax
    • Giant cell arteritis
    • Spasms in the blood vessels that carry blood to the eye
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Stroke or transient ischemic attack
    • Drug abuse

    Professional Treatments

    If you have been diagnosed with retinal migraines, consult your doctor about the best treatment options. There is no one recommended treatment regimen since it varies from person to person.

    If you dont experience ocular migraines very frequently, your doctor may advise you to use over-the-counter NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen when the episodes occur.4

    Your doctor may also recommend the following:

    • Anti-nausea medication to reduce nausea and related symptoms
    • Calcium channel blockers to lower blood pressure
    • Anti-epileptic medications to prevent seizures
    • Tricyclic antidepressants to alter the brains chemistry

    Doctors dont usually use traditional migraine treatments such as triptans and ergotamines for people with ocular migraines.5

    Triptans, for example, arent safe if youre at risk for a stroke, which may be the case for people experiencing temporary blindness in one eye.

    A recent technique for treating or preventing ocular migraine is to use a self-administered device that delivers electrical stimulation to the forehead or back of the head.

    These devices include:

    Home Remedies

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    Treating And Coping With Migraine

    Migraine can be debilitating and impact your quality of life. If youre experiencing blind spots or vision disturbances, for example, you will want to wait until they pass before driving.

    Ocular migraine will typically go away with time. You should rest and avoid triggers such as bright lights until the vision disturbances are gone.

    There are both over-the-counter treatments and prescription medications that you can use to treat recurring migraine flares. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or Excedrin Migraine may also help reduce the symptoms.

    Other medications that may help you manage ocular migraine include:

    • beta-blockers

    How A Headache Can Affect Your Eyes And Vision

    Have you ever had a headache that affected your vision? Sometimes a headache can cause pain around your eyes, even though the headache is not associated with a vision problem.

    On the other hand, a headache may be a sign that your eyes are changing and that it’s time to schedule an eye exam. Although headaches are rarely a medical emergency, you shouldn’t ignore a severe one.

    This article will discuss how different kinds of headaches can affect your eyes and vision. It will also talk about certain vision problems that can cause headaches.

    Verywell / Luyi Wang

    Headaches can sometimes cause vision problems. This is especially true with migraines and cluster headaches.

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    Could Your Headaches Be Due To Eye Problems

    If youre suffering from frequent headaches, ask yourself, When was my last eye checkup?

    A routine eye exam can turn up a variety of issues that may be causing headaches. In some cases staring at the computer screen too long, or working on overly bright or dim light may be the culprit. Adjusting workplace lighting, or remembering to take a break every hour or so to give your eyes a rest can remedy those problems.

    There are also some common eye conditions that may result in headaches if untreated. They are:

    • Astigmatism, in which the cornea is not properly shaped, and requires you to squint in order to focus your vision.
    • Hyperopia, or long-sightedness.
    • Presbyopia, a condition in which the lens has become hard and inflexible with age, making it difficult to focus.

    Why Do Vision Changes Happen With Migraine

    Can swelling of the eyes be related to Migraine Headache? – Dr. Elankumaran P

    Doctors have a few ideas of what may cause vision changes during a migraine attack. Changes to electrical charges in the cortex of the brain may be the cause. Retinal migraine may be caused by the same electrical changes in the eye. Lack of blood flow to certain areas of the brain or eye may be the problem.2

    More research is needed to find out what causes the visual changes that come with migraine.

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    Visual Disturbance Of Migraine Is Short

    The visual disturbances of migraine generally last less than an hour, most commonly 10-30 minutes. Sometimes they only last seconds. They may or may not be associated with a headache, and some individuals only experience the visual symptoms without headaches. The visual symptoms usually start before the headache but may occur during the headache.

    To complicate the issue, migraine may change throughout life. The character of the headache may change, and the visual symptoms may change. The most common pattern is for the headaches to become less severe or even go away, with episodes of visual aura persisting. Some people only experience migraine-related visual symptoms, often without headache, starting at age 50 or later.

    Migraine Attacks And Vision Changes

    Up to 30% of people who experience regular migraines have visual symptoms, part of whats called an aura. As with retinal migraines, visual symptoms usually occur before the headache attack but may occur during the headache itself. The visual changes occur in both eyes and are most often in the form of flashing lights or blind spots. Distortion such as blurred vision can also occur.

    Visual changes associated with migraines are short-lived and typically last less than an hour. Because visual disturbance can be a warning sign of something serious, a thorough assessment is vital.

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    How To Address Chronic Eye Strain & Headaches

    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 chronic 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.

    Symptoms Of Visual Disturbances From Migraine

    Silent Migraines: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

    Positive symptoms include zig-zag lines which often shimmer and may move across the field of vision, sparkles, dots, stars, spots, squiggles, and flash bulb effects. The classic migraine visual aura consists of an area that is not well seen, surrounded by shimmering zig-zag lines, that gradually enlarges and then breaks up over a period of 15-30 minutes.

    Negative symptoms are blind spots, tunnel vision, complete loss of vision, or loss of all vision to the left or right side.

    Distorted or altered visual symptoms are the sensations of looking through water, heat waves, blurred vision, fractured vision , loss of color vision, objects appearing too large or small, or objects seeming closer or farther than they really are.

    Given the wide variety of visual symptoms that accompany migraine, it is sometimes hard to determine whether ones symptoms are indeed migraine-related, or due to a more serious problem that warrants medical attention. Causes for concern include:

    Deborah I. Friedman, MD, MPH, Director, Headache and Facial Pain Program University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, TX

    This article is a legacy contribution from the American Headache Society Committee for Headache Education and the Fred Sheftell, MD Education Center.

    Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundations subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. to read about our editorial board members.

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    Tips On Preventing Computer Vision

    You can take steps to prevent digital eye strain from occurring. One of the easiest ways to do so is by looking away from your screen from time to time, such as every 20 minutes, to give your eyes a break. Controlling the amount of glare on your screen can also reduce headaches and migraines caused by eye strain. You can also reduce these symptoms by sitting at a comfortable distance from your screen and having your vision checked. Keep in mind that vision problems that have not been corrected can contribute to digital eye strain and make symptoms of it worse. Having our optometrist check your eyes on a regular basis helps ensure that vision problems are diagnosed and corrected. We can also help you find relief from eye strain caused by staring at digital screens.

    What To Do If You Have A Visual Disturbance

    If you are suffering from visual disturbances

    • Stop what you are doing. If you are driving, pull over as soon as you can do so safely.
    • Stay calm. Most visual disturbances will pass in 10-30 minutes and are not likely to be a medical issue.
    • Rest, often a cool dark room is most comforting.
    • Take paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac or naproxen whichever painkiller you have previously used comfortably and safely.
    • Record, write down what you feel and see. Take special note of whether or not the disturbance is affecting one or both eyes.

    Then, when you get a chance, contact your Optometrist or GP to discuss how soon you should be checked. In most cases these symptoms are not urgent.

    But if you have sudden loss of sight in one or both eyes, or in a section of your vision, seek medical advice immediately.

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    Warning Signs To Watch For

    Sometimes headaches with visual changes are a warning sign of something serious. Signs and symptoms that warrant medical attention include:

    • Visual changes that last for hours or days
    • Vision disturbance that accompanies symptoms such as trouble speaking or thinking clearly
    • Vision changes that dont go away
    • New visual migraine symptoms

    If youve had a stable pattern but now have migraine symptoms that have suddenly changed, its wise to seek medical evaluation in this instance as well.

    How Are Migraines Diagnosed

    Ocular migraines with vision disturbance: Should I Worry?

    There is no test that will tell your doctor that your symptoms are being caused by migraines. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, take a family history and do a physical exam.

    Your doctor may ask you:

    • How often you get headaches or have other symptoms.

    • What level of severity of head pain you experience.

    • How long your headaches usually last.

    • How the headaches affect your daily life .

    • If you have other symptoms .

    • If you have a family history of headaches/migraines.

    Your doctor may make a diagnosis based on your answers, exam, symptoms and family history. They may also ask you to keep a headache diary to help with diagnosis and identifying patterns or triggers.

    Most people who go to a doctor for headaches do not have an MRI or CT scan. But in some cases, your doctor may order imaging to check for less common headache causes such as aneurysm, blood clots or a brain tumor.

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    Migraine Symptoms That Affect Vision

    Just as vision problems can spark migraines, migraine symptoms can impair vision. Migraines can set off light flashes called auras, which is short-term vision loss. During these auras, streaks of light and sparkles impair vision for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes.

    An ocular migraine causes temporary vision loss in one eye, which can occur at any point during a migraine cycle.

    If youre dealing with migraines or severe headaches and youre experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, its important that you inform both your family doctor and your eye doctor. Your family doctor may recommend that you see your eye doctor so he or she can give you an eye exam and determine if eye issues are the reason youre experiencing migraines.

    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.

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    Ocular Migraine Vs Retinal Migraine: Is There A Difference

    There is a subtype of migraine that is distinguished by visual disturbances or temporary loss of vision in one eye, rather than in both eyes. This is called a retinal migraine, and it tends to occur when the blood vessels that nourish the eye narrow.

    Retinal migraines are very rare and you might experience seeing twinkling lights, blind spots, or vision loss in one eye. To determine whether or not you have a migraine with aura or retinal migraine, try this test: If you cover one eye, you may notice these symptoms, but if you cover the other eye, your vision could be totally fine.

    Symptoms of retinal migraine are short-lived. When blood flow returns to the retina, your vision will return to normal.

    What Does A Migraine Feel Like

    Can Migraines Cause Double Vision?

    A migraine attack typically has four phases, but some people don’t always go through all the phases. The four phases of a migraine are:

    • Prodrome In the day or days before a migraine, you may experience symptoms such as moodiness, fluid retention, yawning often and urinating more than usual.

    • Aura Right before or during a headache, you may see zig zags, wavy lines of light, dots, spots or stars. These vision symptoms typically last up to 30 minutes.

    • Headache A migraine often, but not always, includes a headache. The head pain may start slowly and build up over time. The pain may throb or pulsate. You may also have other symptoms such as nausea or sensitivity to light. This phase may last from a few hours to three days.

    • Postdrome This is the period of recovery from a headache known as a “migraine hangover.” You may feel achy, tired or weak.

    Most people with migraine go through the prodrome, headache and postdrome, though they may not always recognize each phase. Only about one in five people with migraine go through the aura phase.

    Learning how to recognize the prodrome phase can alert you that you need to take migraine medication to head off a headache or lessen symptoms.

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