Method 3 Of 3:trying Environmental Treatment
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.
Should I Be Concerned About Ocular Migraines
Q: I recently found out by looking on the Web that my symptoms point to ocular migraines. I have also discovered that flashing lights sometimes bring these on. I am an intensive care unit nurse who believes in not running to doctors for every little thing, but should I be concerned?
Dr. Jerry W. Swanson responds:
Not necessarily, but here’s what you should know. Ocular is a term that usually refers to a condition known as migraine visual aura, which involves episodes of passing visual disturbances, such as bright spots, affecting both eyes. Visual aura usually precedes a migraine . However, it may also occur during a headache. In some cases, as with ocular migraine, people experience the symptoms of visual aura without getting a headache. The symptoms of an aura usually begin slowly and last 15 to 30 minutes, although they sometimes persist for up to an hour.
Often, the symptoms of ocular migraine begin near the center of vision as either a bright spot or area of visual loss that spreads to involve one-quarter or one-half of the visual field. Zigzag lines or other shapes may also appear. For some people, these shapes resemble the walls of a medieval fortress. In fact, the term “fortification spectrum” is used by neurologists to describe it.
How Is An Ocular Migraine Diagnosed
There is no specific diagnostic test for ocular migraine. Ocular migraine is a diagnosis of exclusion meaning that we must exclude all other options and then conclude that the patient has only had an ocular migraine and nothing more vision threatening. The most important diagnosis to exclude is a retinal detachmentwhich can be visually devastating. An eye doctor must perform a full retinal examination with pupil dilation to ensure that there is no tear or detachment of the retina.
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 Are The ‘red Flags’ That My Visual Symptoms Are Not Due To Migraine
The typical symptoms of a visual migraine are positive, meaning that there is something shimmering or sparkling that is disrupting the vision. Migraines are less likely to cause “negative” symptoms of pure visual darkness. An episode of visual darkness typically requires additional evaluation for other conditions, including a mini-stroke .
What Is An Ocular Migraine
An ocular migraine is a rare condition characterized by temporary vision loss or even temporary blindness in one eye. Ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye.
In an ocular migraine, vision in the affected eye generally returns to normal within an hour. Ocular migraines can be painless or they can occur along with a migraine headache. Ocular migraines are also called retinal migraines.
Unfortunately, “ocular migraine” often is used to describe a much more common condition called a visual migraine or migraine aura.
Visual migraines also cause temporary vision disturbances. But the vision problems caused by visual migraines affect both eyes, not just one eye, and tend to be somewhat shorter usually around 20 minutes in duration.
Now, lets take a closer look at ocular migraines and visual migraines .
Treatment And Prevention Of Ocular And Visual Migraines
As already noted, visual disturbances caused by ocular migraines and visual migraines typically go away within an hour.
If you are performing tasks that require clear vision when an ocular migraine or visual migraine occurs, stop what you are doing and relax until it passes. If you’re driving, pull of the road, park your vehicle and wait for your vision to return to normal.
As soon as possible, see your eye doctor, family physician or a neurologist for evaluation of your migraine episodes. Your doctor can let you know about the latest medicines for treating migraines, including those that may help prevent future attacks.
It’s also a good idea to keep a journal of your diet and daily activities. Doing so can help you identify possible triggers of your ocular migraines or visual migraines .
Many migraine attacks are stress-related. You might be able to reduce how often they occur by:
Avoiding common migraine triggers
Getting plenty of sleep
Trying stress-busters such as yoga and massage
Migraines can be successfully managed so they are less frequent and debilitating. The first step is to see a doctor to discuss your symptoms including vision problems and discuss treatment and prevention options.
Treating And Preventing Migraine With Aura Or Retinal Migraine
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 . 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.
Stay Calm This Shouldn’t Last Long
One of the best things which you can do is to stay calm.
Typically the ocular migraines last ten minutes to an hour and are not known to have long lasting effects.
The more you can relax and avoid stress until the symptoms disappear, the better off you will be.
Plus, once you learn your early warning signals of your ocular migraine symptoms, you will know what to do and feel more in control.
You can take action to take care of yourself faster.
Caffeine Could Stop Them In Their Tracks
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.
What Are Ocular Migraines
Ocular migraines are a larger group of visual aura type migraines.
They include many different types of migraines but all have the visual disturbance such as:
- Blind spots
There are two main types of ocular migraines:
Is described by the american migraine foundation as visual symptoms occurring in only one eye before or during a migraine. This type of migraine is more serious, may lead to permanent vision loss and needs to be brought up with your doctor immediately as it may be something more serious.
Migraine with aura
The most common presentation of migraine with aura is a visual disturbance that slowly increases, peaks and then disappears resulting in a headache. But not all migraines with are visual.
Ocular migraines may or may not come with head pain but are most commonly found with it.
Its always important to bring any of these symptoms up with your doctor to be sure its a migraine and not something more serious.
Other common names for ocular migraines are:
Below is a video of a type of ocular migraine.
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.
An Ounce Of Prevention
You can try to prevent migraine with aura the same ways you would any migraine. Try these steps as suggested by the Mayo Clinic:
Discover your triggers. By keeping a journal, you can see what’s likely to trigger your migraines. Once you know your triggers, you can work to avoid them as much as possible. Common migraine triggers include alcohol, citrus fruits and packaged and processed foods with chemicals, such as MSG and nitrates in hot dogs and deli meats.
Get quality sleep. Don’t sleep too long or too little. Stick to the same bedtime and morning routine, even on weekends.
Eat according to the clock. Having a regular eating routine will help you avoid missing meals, a trigger for some people.
Take migraine-prevention medications. There are many new and effective drugs as well as medications used for other conditions that help prevent migraines. These range from biologics and Botox to high blood pressure, antidepressant and anti-seizure medications. Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you based on the frequency of your visual migraines.
Protect Yourself From Light Exposure
One thing that might help is the wearing of sunglasses inside or out! Polarized sunglasses, in particular, can help protect your eyes from the glare of interior lighting or computers.
There are times when the light is actually the trigger for the ocular migraine and sitting or lying in a dark room can be very beneficial.
If this is not possible, shut your eyes and try to rest for at least 15 minutes.
For example, looking at this picture feels like it is triggering a migraine for me. So glare is definitely a trigger for me. But I never leave the house without my polarized or migraine tinted sunglasses.
These are great:
Can An Eye Exam Detect Glaucoma
A complete eye exam includes a check for glaucoma. Glaucoma is an eye disease usually caused by having elevated pressure in the eye. Glaucoma can cause vision loss, often without any warning signs or symptoms. Regular eye exams, including specific diagnostic tests, are important for early detection of glaucoma.
Hide In A Dark Room With A Nice Cold Wet Washcloth
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.
What Else You Should Know About Ocular Migraines
An ocular migraine is short-lived and may not be painful, but it can be debilitating you have to be careful while doing daily activities like driving, reading, or writing. The chance of permanent vision loss due to an ocular migraine is rare but the reduced blood flow for a prolonged time can damage your retina. So it is a good idea to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist to check your condition.
Since hormones play such a big role in causing migraines, declining estrogen levels as women age and enter menopause is a reason why migraines usually reduce in severity in older women.
How To Get Rid Of An Eye Migraine
Do you get crushing eye pain before an attack? You may not, but if you do, here are 4 key acupressure points to help relieve it. When I feel my eye muscles start to crush down, on one or both eyes, I know I’m in for a long, nasty migraine attack.
Many migraines have visual disturbances and a host of other symptoms that accompany them. And the pain and symptoms can vary greatly between individuals.
For example, you might experience the pain in both eyes, and it continues onto a full blown attack on one side of the head. Or you might just have very mild symptoms and dont really need any further treatment, as the episode passes in half an hour or so.
If you have moderate to severe attacks, which means the eye migraine symptoms progress to the pain phase, you will do best to use medications to help abort or manage the pain phase. It is common not to have any pain with an optical migraine, but if you have classic migraines the aura will most likely be followed the pain phase.
Articles On Migraine Types
It’s rare. Some research suggests that in many cases, the symptoms are due to other problems.
Regular attacks can also cause problems, called an aura, which can involve flashing lights and blind spots. But these symptoms usually happen in both .
Talk to your doctor to find out if you have ocular migraine. They can rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Be ready to describe what you went through as completely as you can to help them figure out what’s really going on.
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, it’s 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 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 ofs, 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.
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So how do you treat your eye migraine symptoms so they don’t progress to full blown migraine attack?
How To Get Rid Of An Ocular Migraine With The 3 Truths + Common Treatments
The most common treatment plan for ocular migranes is to make sure its nothing more serious and then go about a regular migraine treatment approach.
This usually means a life long sentence of medication.
Here at Migraine Professional we understand that its more important to focus on what is causing the underlying pathology to create the symptoms than it is to only address symptoms.
Of course you want to manage symptoms like pain, fatigue, brain fog and visual disturbances so they dont impair your life but you want to make sure you are going about a clear plan of action to deal with the causes.
If your brain is going through this electrical outagechoke uprevv or whatever you want to call it then you want to continually address and heal the causes of those.
This means we want to look at 3 different areas.
Step 6: Try Hot Or Cold Therapy
If youve ever put an ice pack on an injury or a heating pad on a sore back, you know the power of temperature therapy. This can also help when you have a migraine. You may need to experiment to decide what feels best for you. Some people find that applied to the head offers soothing, numbing relief. This is particularly helpful if sun or heat brought on your migraine.
Other people find or hot shower to be therapeutic during an attack. Its worth trying hot or cold therapy when your next migraine hits. It can safely and effectively complement your medication.
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.
More About An Ocular Migraine
This type of migraine can occur commonly in:
- People below 40 years old
- People with a family or personal history of migraines or other types of migraine
- People with diseases such as hardening of the arteries, lupus, epilepsy, sickle cell disease, or depression.
The use of the term can sometimes be confusing. A migraine aura, which also causes visual distortions, are sometimes referred to as an ocular migraine or a retinal migraine, more so if they dont cause headaches. The main difference between the two migraines is that an ocular one causes symptoms only to the eye, while a migraine aura affects both. Since these migraine types can be confusing, you need to be careful. If you are diagnosed with one, dont use it interchangeably as their treatment is slightly different.
Diet Nutrition & Lifestyle Choices
Evidence is beginning to support the idea that migraine headaches are associated with mitochondria dysfunction. Supplements such as riboflavin , coenzyme Q10, magnesium3, niacin, carnitine, and lipoic acid, which support mitochondrial function, have been shown to help alleviate migraine headaches.2
- Be sure to also read our lifestyle recommendations for migraine headaches.
- See our essential visionwellness tips for this eye condition.
- Stress. Manage stress – meditate, take cool walks in the morning, do yoga … whatever works well for you.
- Computer. Avoid long hours on the computer and take frequent breaks.
- Exercise regularly, at least 3x weekly. Exercise reduces the amount of pain from migraines although it does not directlystop migraines by itself.
- Pay attention to what you eat in the event that the ocular migraines are tied to an allergy.
- Sleep routine. Wake up at the same time each morning, and get plenty of sleep at night
- Finally, acupuncture is worth considering.
These Migraines Do Not Cause Damage But See Your Doctor Anyway
Although typically, the ocular migraines do not cause damage, see a doctor to double check.
The doctor can prescribe medication such as Cafergot, which slows down the blood flow changes and can help to relieve the pain during or following the ocular migraine.
Your condition may be another more serious problem such as retinal detachment or an aneurysm. So its important to rule out the serious stuff first.
What Should I Do If I Have One
Visiting an eye doctor might be a good idea, but it may not produce all the answers you are looking for in terms of how to prevent or treat an ocular migraine. As mentioned, this is due to the fact that processes that the migraine triggers are not very well understood yet. The visual symptoms you might be experiencing are directly related to the eyes; the symptoms come as a result of the activity of a migraine in the visual cortex area of the brain.
Migraine attacks often appear suddenly, which can create the sensation of squinting through a shiny cracked window. The vision distortions that accompany these episodes spread across your vision field and usually subside with about 30 minutes. Your visual acuity during these migraine episodes will be significantly impaired.
If sharp visual acuity is critical for your safety, its advisable to immediately stop what youre doing. If youre driving, for instance, pull over until you recover and your vision returns to normal. Stay calm and still until a migraine has resolved.
If you have issues with lingering or unusual vision symptoms that effect both eyes, visit an eye doctor or any other physician for a checkup.