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How Do You Prevent Ocular Migraines

Caffeine Could Stop Them In Their Tracks

ocular migraine – how do you stop these?

There are a lot of things that are still not known about the ocular migraines. Drinking caffeine, in any form that you like such as soda or coffee, may help alleviate these symptoms.

We don’t know for sure, at this time, if the caffeine actually helps the ocular symptoms, or just stops the migraine from progressing, and stops the headache pain afterwards.

It is well worth a trial and error experiment, if you don’t drink coffee every day already.

You can read more about using caffeine as a migraine treatment on this post caffeine and migraines.

Ocular Migraine Symptoms: How To Stop Them

Written and verified by Holly Hazen

Here are 10 tips to help deal with ocular migraine symptoms so you know what they look like, and then what you can do to stop, reduce or relieve them.

Ocular migraines are rare and just like classic migraines it is important to learn and avoid your triggers and find ways to reduce your symptoms.

Ocular migraines are not necessarily associated with a headache or a migraine pain phase.

These episodes occur when the blood flow in the brain responds to a trigger.

These triggers can vary from bright lights, foods, medications or even hormones. Just like those associated with classical migraine headaches.

In response to these triggers, the brain may produce light patterns, which can include blind spots or zig-zag patterns. The ocular migraines are quite different from the regular migraines. It is quite normal to have an optical migraine aura without headaches.

Here are some symptoms you need to watch for:

Taking Medication Is One Way To Stop Them Quickly

The first symptoms occurring can appear to be like flashing lights, blind spots or zig-zag patterns.

When these start, taking a pain reliever can help relax the nerves in the brain and can possibly help prevent a headache from accompanying the ocular migraine.

See your physician to find the best medication to take to stop your ocular migraine symptoms with your unique body. You may need a stronger medication if this progresses to the nasty pain phase.

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Can Magnesium Help Ocular Migraines

Research on magnesium has found it to be a potentially well-tolerated, safe and inexpensive option for migraine prevention, while it may also be effective as an acute treatment option for headaches including migraines, tension- type headaches and cluster headaches, particularly in certain patient subsets.

The Difference Between Migraines With Aura And Ocular Migraines


Theres nothing like itthe excruciating, throbbing pain in your head that can only be a migraine. If you suffer from migraines, you may have noticed some visual disturbances in addition to your headache. Most likely what you have experienced is a migraine with aura accounting for approximately 20% of all migraines. There is also another less common type of migraine with visual disturbance called an ocular migraine affecting only about one out of every 200 people who have migraines. These two types of headaches are very similar making it very confusing to tell which is which. Read on to learn the distinctions between the two.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of the two conditions are almost the same except for a few telltale signs. The main difference is a migraine with aura will affect both eyes while an ocular migraine affects only one. Both have visual disturbances such as:

  • Flashes of light
  • Shimmering, colored, or flickering lights
  • Floating lines

The visual disturbances tend to go away before the headache begins for the migraine with aura but can last longer for the ocular headache. Also, the headache, which can also be accompanied by symptoms of nausea and severe light sensitivity, tends to be right behind the affected eye of an ocular migraine but can be more spread out for a migraine with aura.

What are the causes?

What to do about them?

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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 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.

How To Prevent Ocular Migraines: Understanding The Causes

Any migraine is a debilitating condition that is produced by neurological responses to certain triggers. With eye-related migraines, changes in blood flow cause visual disturbances. Headaches do not always accompany the condition which is why its called a painless migraine.

The good thing is that research has identified causal factors that exacerbate the condition. Even though they are painless, the resulting interference in the visual field can easily put you out of commission for a time. Listed here are the leading symptoms and causes as well as how to prevent ocular migraines.

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Triggers You Should Avoid To Prevent Ocular Migraines

An ocular migraine is a type of headache accompanied by changes in vision. You may experience temporary vision loss or temporary blindness in one eye. Its believed that ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina. Usually, the visual part of these headaches lasts one hour before things return to normal.

While scientists arent sure what causes changes in the nerves and blood vessels, many people report common triggers. Knowing your triggers is helpful because you can avoid them and hopefully decrease the frequency of ocular migraines. Below are the top ocular migraine triggers to watch for.

Why Does An Ocular Migraine Happen

How to Prevent Your Migraines

Its believed that ocular migraines have similar causes as a migraine headache. Both may have a genetic link, with those who have a family history of migraines being more susceptible to them.

The cause of ocular migraines can be down to reduced blood flow in the retina. The blood vessels to the eye suddenly narrow, reducing the blood flow to the eye. Many triggers may contribute to the onset of an ocular migraine, and they may differ from person to person.

Triggers can include stress, lack of sleep, smoking and certain foods like caffeine, chocolate or red wine. Ocular migraines are more common in women, and more common amongst those under 40.

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When Should You Worry About An Ocular Migraine

Although the symptoms of ocular migraines can be frightening, the condition is harmless and short-lived in most cases. However, ocular migraines can indicate serious health problems, such as increased risk for stroke or severe carotid artery disease.

Its essential to see an eye doctor when you lose your eyesight suddenly for the first time or if your eyesight deteriorates to check for any serious conditions.

What Are The Potential Complications Of Retinal Migraine

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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Drive With Caution Or Not At All

Common sense will tell you that if you have ocular migraine symptoms while driving, pull over and stop the car.

Make sure you have a mobile or cell phone with you to call someone to come and get you.

You can always get the car later. Or call a taxi so you can get home and rest. Resting for at least 15 minutes might help – try lying down in the back seat and covering your eyes for complete darkness.

Do not attempt to operate machinery or drive while experiencing an ocular migraine.

Hide In A Dark Room With A Nice Cold Wet Washcloth

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Lie down, close your eyes and place a cold slightly damp washcloth over your eyes. Hot or cold doesn’t matter, use whatever calms the symptoms. This helps best if you can be resting in a darkened, quiet room.

Tell people what you are doing and that you need to be quiet and silent for half an hour or so.

Then just try to drift away and think about walking through the garden, all shaded and safe.

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How Can I Treat Migraines Without Using Medicines

It is very important to remember that many of the most effective preventive treatments for migraines do not require any medications. Frequent aerobic exercise is an excellent example of an effective way to improve headaches. Other strategies may include better sleep habits, stress reduction, massage, yoga, and acupuncture.

Pearls And Other Issues

  • 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.

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Tips For Managing And Preventing Visual Migraines

If your visual migraine occurs frequently, here are some tips to help you prevent or manage the condition.

  • Acupressure. This is an evidence-based practice of applying pressure with hands to specific points on the body to relieve pain and other symptoms. It can be an effective alternative therapy for migraine headaches.
  • Lavender oil. Lavender oil can be inhaled or applied diluted to the temples to ease your migraine pain.
  • Peppermint oil. According to a 2010 study, the menthol in peppermint oil can minimize migraines.6 The research showed that applying menthol to the forehead and temples relieved migraine-related pain, nausea, and light sensitivity.
  • Yoga. Yoga uses breathing, meditation, and body postures to promote health and well-being, relieving the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines.
  • Massage therapy. Massage reduces stress and enhances coping skills. It also lowers heart rate, anxiety, and cortisol levels.
  • Herbal supplements. Butterbur and feverfew are common herbal remedies that may aid with migraine pain and frequency reduction.
  • Avoid Triggers. Ocular migraine triggers such as caffeinated foods, alcohol, dehydration, smoking, or stress
  • Unwind at the end of the day. Basic things like listening to soothing music or taking a warm bath after a long day can help your body relax and prevent migraines.

Treating And Preventing Migraine With Aura Or Retinal Migraine

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For infrequent attacks, medications that target symptoms can be effective, from NSAIDs for pain to anti-nausea medications. Preventative therapies including calcium channel blockers, antiepileptic or tricyclic medications. Quitting smoking is recommended and cessation of oral contraceptives may be advised in certain circumstances. Some options for relief without drugs can include resting your eyes, removing yourself from bright sunlight or other harsh lighting, and taking a break from looking at a screen. As with all types of migraine, try to avoid triggers like stress, dehydration, high altitude, low blood sugar, excessive heat and extensive time spent staring at a screen.

While the symptoms can be disorienting and distressing, they are often short-lived, and almost always reversible. Take some time away from triggers and wait for the symptoms to fade. For more information, visit the American Migraine Foundations resource center, which includes content specifically related to Migraine with Aura, Retinal Migraine and more. The American Migraine Foundation is committed to providing comfort and information to people living with this disease. You are not alone: find your support network today.

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How Do I Know If I Have An Ocular Migraine

ByAnna Hart | Submitted On March 20, 2007

To many people, a migraine headache is a migraine headache. They assume, falsely, that all migraines are pretty much the same. So when one of the 15% of our population that suffers from migraine says they have an ocular migraine, non-sufferers may raise a skeptical eyebrow. The truth is, however, that there are many different kinds of migraine.

Define Ocular Migraine

An ocular migraine is a type of migraine that focuses on that part of the aura in which visual symptoms predominate. There may never be an actual headache.

Symptoms of Ocular Migraine

If you are familiar with regular migraine pain, and now hear of ocular migraine, you may very well ask, “How do I know if I have an ocular migraine? I have no headache.”

An ocular migraine is sometimes called a migraine without headache. It is a migraine that distorts images when you look at them. The distortion usually begins in the image’s center, and then moves to one side. Ocular migraine is likely to affect only one eye at a time. As an ocular migraine progresses, images may turn grey or wavy. You may even lose your sight temporarily.

Doctors differ in their understanding of ocular migraine. Some say that ocular migraine is more likely to occur as you get older. Others say it is typically seen in young adults. It can be quite frightening, as you may think you are losing your sight forever.

Specific Symptoms of Ocular Migraine:

Ocular Migraine Symptoms Are Temporary

What Are Ocular Migraines And How Can You Prevent Them

It is important to note that an ocular migraine is sometimes confused with another condition known as a visual migraine. Ocular migraines are not the same thing a visual migraine is much more common and harmless. An ocular migraine, also known as a retinal migraine, are usually painless and may occur alongside or after a migraine headache.

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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

The visual cues are hard to ignore: shimmering or flashing lights, zigzagging lines or stars, black spots. All make it difficult to read, write or drive. If you experience these symptoms, youre most likely having an ocular migraine. It can occur with or without the pain of a migraine headache.

For people prone to migraines, one of every five has this visual aura before the headache pain begins. An ocular migraine by itself lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and isnt considered a serious condition.

Although some doctors think ocular migraines are caused by the same factors that create classic migraines, no one knows for certain. Ocular migraines seem to run in families. They have been linked to estrogen, a female hormone that fluctuates during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, or with use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapies.

Most ocular and retinal migraines dont require treatment.

Keep That Water Bottle Handy

Ocular Migraine: What You Should Know

One of the key triggers of ocular migraines is dehydration. Its not uncommon for people to forget to drink enough fluids especially with their busy lives keeping their calendars filled. Dehydration can also be worse in harsher climates, during peak activity times and when dieting.

Thirst has little to do with how much you should be drinking in a day. However, drinking sufficient amounts of fluid is one of the easiest things to correct when trying to prevent ocular migraines from occurring. The golden rule is no less than 6-8 glasses of fluid every day.

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Deterrence And Patient Education

It is critical to educate the patients about the red flags of vision loss. A visual loss that patients describe as darkness requires immediate medical attention and an emergency room visit. Patients must understand that this could be a sign of a stroke or an irreversible eye condition. Visual changes that are more consistent with migraine phenomenon are usually positive such as flashing light. Patients must also be taught that those could come without a headache or any pain. Preventive therapy is important to reduce the frequency of attacks and severity and must be taken on a daily basis.

Can Eye Strain Cause Headaches

Eye strain is a common condition that is one of many possible causes of headaches. Other types of eye problems can also lead to a headache.

However, the American Migraine Association explains that eye strain is commonly overrated as a cause of headache. Eye problems can cause discomfort in the eye that reflect referred pain from a headache.

Eye problems associated with headaches include:

  • Injury to the cornea.
  • Degenerative disease of the cornea.
  • Eye infection.
  • Acute attack of angle-closure glaucoma.
  • Optic nerve conditions.
  • Giant cell arteritis .
  • Ocular ischemic syndrome.
  • Uncorrected nearsightedness or farsightedness.

According to AMA, most people with headaches do not have an eye condition that causes their headaches. Most headaches are caused by a primary headache disorder, such as a migraine or tension-type headache.

It is possible for headaches to be caused by any of the above eye conditions. Further medical attention from an ophthalmologist is warranted if this is suspected.

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Treating And Coping With Migraines

Even if the migraines exist alone and are not a symptom of an underlying condition, they can still be debilitating and impact your life. If youre experiencing blind spots or vision disturbances, for example, you will want to wait until they pass before driving.

Ocular migraines will typically go away on their own within 30 minutes. 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 can be used to treat recurring migraines. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or Excedrin migraine can be used to reduce the symptoms of a migraine once you already have them. Your doctor can prescribe you:

Some of these prescription medications will be taken on a regular basis instead of an as-needed basis when you get the migraines.

If youre experiencing ocular migraine pain, you can:

  • lie down or sit in a dark, quiet room
  • massage your scalp with a lot of pressure
  • put pressure on your temples
  • put a damp towel over your forehead


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