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How Common Are Retinal Migraines

Do Ocular Migraines Have A Risk Of Stroke

What If I Have Been Diagnosed with Retinal Migraines?

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 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

What Are Migraine Treatments

Most ocular and retinal migraines dont require treatment. They will go away on their own. It helps to rest and avoid triggers such as loud noises or bright lights.

If ocular or retinal migraines occur frequently, your eye doctor may suggest medications, including those used to treat other forms of migraines. Beta blockers, antidepressants and anticonvulsants sometimes are helpful, although more research is needed to determine the most effective treatments.

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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.

Treatment For Retinal Migraine

Migraine: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And ...

Treatment for retinal migraine usually just involves taking pain relief for any headaches and reducing exposure to anything that might be triggering the retinal migraine.

Your doctor may sometimes prescribe preventative medication to try and reduce how often you get a migraine. Your doctor will discuss the best way to treat your symptoms with you.

There is no one best way to treat retinal migraine. Your doctor may have to try several different medications to see what works best for you.

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How Can I Prevent An Ocular Migraine

Making sure youre well hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and are in overall good health when it comes to your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, should go a long way to helping reduce the occurrence of ocular migraines. In terms of treating any pain that comes with the ocular migraine, you can take pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, as well as reduce your exposure to the triggers we discussed earlier in this blog post. You may also be able to have anti-epileptic medication prescribed to you, which can help prevent migraines. However, there is still plenty of research to be done when it comes to treating ocular migraines.

To help with the pain, you might find it useful to:

  • Lie down in a dark room
  • Massage your scalp or temples
  • Sit in a quiet environment
  • Drink water

What Is An Ocular Migraine Aura

So, lets talk aura, those sensory changes that can accompany migraine . Aura most often manifests as visual disturbances, according to the Mayo Clinic4. But you could also experience different sensations, like hearing music or feeling like someone is touching you. When were talking about an ocular migraine, were only talking about the visual symptoms.

While some people experience an aura before their migraine headache strikes, an ocular migraine refers to the experience of only experiencing visual disturbanceswithout the stereotypical migraine head pain.

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What Is A Visual Migraine

Visual migraines can mimic other serious conditions, making it very important to see an eye doctor as soon as possible if you experience any sudden vision loss or changes to your vision.

A visual migraine, also known as an ocular migraine, causes temporary visual disturbance. This disturbance often appears suddenly and may create a blind spot moving across the visual field or the sensation of looking through a cracked window.

There are two types of ocular migraines:

  • migraine auras

Migraine auras are very common, affecting 1 in 5 migraine sufferers.

Migraine auras cause binocular visual distortions, affecting both eyes simultaneously. They may also cause:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Mental fog
  • Changes in taste, smell, or sense of touch.

An aura can occur with or without a migraine, and may sometimes precede a headache. The visual distortions are temporary and usually last around 30 minutes. They can impact performance in certain activities, such as driving and reading.

The most common visual symptoms of migraine auras include:

  • Flashes of light

Headaches Behind The Eye In People Over 40

Treatment of Retinal Migraine

In particular, people over the age of 40 may begin experiencing headaches behind the eyes more frequently as they get older due to a condition called presbyopia. As the eyes age, it can become more difficult for them to focus on objects up-close, causing them to squint and strain in order to see more clearly. This strain can lead to feelings of pain behind the eyes, alongside soreness and redness.

With other common conditions such as blurry vision, digital eye strain, and difficulty seeing up-close, its best to have your eyesight checked by an optician if youre concerned.

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Diagnosing And Treating Ocular Migraines

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

What Is A Migraine Aura

Migraine auras cause binocular visual distortions, but may also cause numbness or tingling, mental fog, or changes in taste, smell, or sense of touch.

An aura can occur with or without a migraine headache, and may sometimes precede the headache.

Migraine auras are quite common, affecting one in five migraine sufferers.

While the visual distortions are temporary, usually lasting around 30 minutes, they can impact your performance of certain activities, such as driving or reading.

The most common visual symptoms include:

  • Glittering stars
  • Psychedelic images

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Causes & Risk Factors

Ocular migraines are typically caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye. Risk factors include:

  • Ocular migraines are believed to have the same causes as migraine headaches.
  • More common in women than men.
  • Most common age group 30-39.
  • Family history of migraine.
  • Same as prevention for migraines.
  • Avoid migraine triggers.
  • Common triggers include stress, hormonal changes, bright/flashing lights, drinking alcohol , changes in the weather, skipping meals/not eating enough, or too much or too little sleep.
  • Keep a headache journal including information about what you were doing, eating, or medications are taken before or after a headache occurs.
  • If you perform tasks that require clear vision, when an ocular migraine or visual migraine occurs, stop what you are doing and relax until your vision returns to normal.
  • If youre driving, park on the side of the road and wait for the visual disturbances to pass completely.
  • Your doctor can advise you on the latest medicines for treating migraines, including medications designed to prevent future attacks.

If your ocular migraines or migraine auras appear to be stress-related, you might be able to reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks without medicine by simply:

  • Eating healthful meals regularly
  • Migraine With Aura
  • Retinal Migraine

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What Causes Visual Migraines

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While the exact cause of visual migraines are still uncertain, some researchers believe that they are caused by spasms or changes in the retinal blood vessels or nerves.

However, most doctors believe that they are caused by the same factors that lead to the classic migraine, including:

  • Family history of migraines
  • Foods containing nitrates, MSG, or tyramine

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How Is An Ocular Migraine Diagnosed

Ocular migraine is diagnosed with a patient history, physical examination, and other tests such as:

  • Eye screening test
  • Patient sits in a chair in a room with the lights out
  • A doctor looks through the lenses of the ophthalmoscope to examine the eyes
  • Patient may be asked to look in various directions during the examination
  • Indirect examination
  • Patient lies down or is seated in a reclined position
  • A doctor can see structures at the back of the eye in a little more detail with this method
  • The lens of the ophthalmoscope is held directly in front of the eye
  • Patient may be asked to look in various directions during the examination
  • A small, blunt probe may be used to apply a little pressure to the eye
  • Slit lamp examination
  • A slit lamp provides greater magnification of the back of the eye than an indirect exam
  • Drops may be administered to dilate the pupils
  • The slit lamp positioned across from the patient who rest their chin and forehead on the instrument
  • A bright light is shined directly into the eye and a microscope is used to evaluate the back of the eye
  • Other tests
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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.

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    Symptoms Of Retinal Migraine

    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 Should I Do If My Sight Goes

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    If your eyesight suddenly deteriorates, make an emergency appointment to see an optometrist or your doctor.

    It is important to see an optometrist or medical doctor urgently if you suddenly lose your eyesight, particularly if it occurs for the first time. There are other more serious causes of sight loss that doctors will want to rule out.

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    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 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.

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    Knowing Exactly Which Type Of Migraine You Have Is Essential To Finding The Most Effective Treatment

    Its a fact: 60% of women and 70% of men with Migraine arent diagnosed properly. Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical for the right treatment. Some medications are actually dangerous to people who actually have Migraine with Aura, for example.

    According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders , there are seven different types of migraines: the two major types , the four subtypes of Migraine with aura, and Chronic Migraine. The criteria for doctors to use in diagnosing these types of Migraine are based on scientific evidence

    What Type Of Doctor Do You See For Ocular Migraines

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    If you have ocular migraines, you can see an ophthalmologist oran optometrist.

    Optometrists are eye care specialists who offer primary vision care services, including:

    • Vision testing
    • Correction of visual problems
    • Treatment and management of visual issues and eye diseases

    On the other hand, ophthalmologists are medical practitioners who specialize in eye and vision care. They differ from optometrists in their degrees of schooling as well as what they can diagnose and cure.

    An ophthalmologist is a healthcare professional who has finished college and has at least eight years of further medical studies. He or she is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. Ophthalmologists hold a Doctor of Medicine degree.

    Optometrists are healthcare professionals who complete four additional years of school after finishing undergraduate studies. They hold a Doctor of Optometry degree.

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    What Is A Retinal Migraine

    A retinal migraine may or may not involve a headache. The primary symptoms are visual and are the result of reduced blood flow to the eye. This may occur when the vessels carrying blood to the eye suddenly narrow. This may result from anything from stress to smoking. Retinal migraines are more common for younger patients as well as those who have a family history of migraines.

    Can I Have A Visual Migraine Without A Headache

    Definitely. It is actually very common to have a visual migraine without any headache. The medical term for this is acephalgic migraine, which literally means migraine symptoms without headache. Except for the absence of a headache, the visual symptoms in acephalgic migraine are identical to the episodes that accompany a classic migraine aura.

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    Treatment For Retinal Migraines

    There are no clear guidelines for the management of patients with retinal migraine. For infrequent attacks, medications used for other forms of migraine are often employed to relieve the other symptoms. These medications can include NSAIDs and antinausea medications. Triptans and ergotamines are avoided in these patients. Preventive therapies used for other migraines types should be explored, such as the calcium channel blockers, antiepileptic or tricyclic medications. Daily aspirin is considered for these people as well. People should stop smoking and discontinuation of oral contraceptives may be advisable.

    What Are The Potential Complications Of Retinal Migraine

    Migraine 2: Clinical

    With retinal migraine, reduced blood flow to the retina may eventually cause damage. This can result in permanent partial or complete vision loss in the eye. It is unclear how often this happens or if there are factors that can predict it. Seeing your doctor for regular follow-up appointments can help identify potential problems with the retina. Most doctors also recommend preventive medications, even if attacks are infrequent.

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    Is An Eye Migraine A Normal Migraine

    Same Triggers, Same Causes and Same Treatment

    Eye migraine has the same triggers as classical migraine: fatigue, skipping meals, caffeine withdrawal, stress and certain foods can trigger a migraine.

    They have the same causes as a typical migraine: the chemical reactions cause cortical spreading depression that effects the electrical impulses in your brain, hormones get released, and the blood vessels spasm.

    At your earliest warning signal you need to take action. If you wait for the pain phase to kick in, its too late. Then the hangover comes later.

    Getting your timing right when treating an acute attack is crucial.

    For mild to moderate migraines you might be able to reduce your symptoms by using caffeine or natural alternatives. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen aka Advil® or Motrin® or acetaminophen aka Tylenol® might work well.

    For severe migraines it might be best to consider using abortive medications from the family of triptans, specifically designed to target migraines. Aleve® if you can take it, is a combination of ibuprofen and naproxen. They are not considered for people with a history of heart attacks, strokes or any other vascular disease.

    If you get migraines regularly you might want to consider a good prevention strategy or seek a more natural approach. But long term management may be required.



    So how do you treat your eye migraine symptoms so they dont progress to full blown migraine attack?


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