What Are The Dangers Associated With Ocular Migraines
Migraine with aura does confer a slightly increased risk of stroke early in life, but even that risk remains low. There is controversy as to whether women with migraine with aura should take estrogen-containing oral contraceptives due to additive stroke risk, although this is still under study.Kevin Weber is a neurologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
What Is An Ocular Migraine
An ocular migraine is an eye problem characterized by short episodes of vision loss or visual disturbances.
For example, you may see flashing lights in one eye accompanied by a headache.
Your doctor may also refer to this type of migraine as ophthalmic or monocular migraines.
These episodes may be scary. But in most cases, they are harmless and short-lived. However, ocular migraines can be a sign of a more serious condition.
Some people experience retinal migraines every few months, but the frequency varies from person to person.
Retinal migraine is a unique condition that should not be confused with headache-type migraine or migraine with aura, which often affect both eyes.1
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- Alcoholic drinks such as red wine
- Excess heat or high altitude
How To Cope With Troublesome Symptoms
Find out if if you get more relief with ice or heat, from your ocular migraine symptoms and use that next time.
Learning what works as you go can be trial and error, but persevere… it is worth experimenting until you find what works.
Migraine Headache Music lists a variety of meditations and relaxing music you can download right now.
How do you cope with your ocular migraine symptoms? Let us know here.
Until next time, be well and be pain free.
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Write Down Your Symptoms
You will need to keep a log of your symptoms with details of when they occur. It’s best to write it all down at the time, if you can see, so you dont forget the details.
I have designed a symptom tracker that’s in my eCourse – Module 4 – Lesson 1 – Creating Your Pain Management Plan. You can print out the migraine diary now to help too…
to download and print the PDF for the migraine diary.
Dr. Charles Slonim, who specializes in vision, says to jot down the day and time of occurrence, length of the episode and all of the symptoms you experienced. Check your vision in each eye individually in other words, cover one eye at a time with your hand and note any symptoms in your uncovered eye.”
Record day, time and length of symptoms.
Check each eye individually.
Recall what you did an hour ago.
“Try to remember what you experienced during the hour before the episode. Some examples would be an argument with someone, heavy exercise or a stressful moment at work.
Have this on hand to review with your doctor.
It will also help you find out if there is a pattern of triggers that relate to the attacks. Avoiding these triggers may reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks.
Now that you have ruled out more serious issues with your physician and have been diagnosed with ocular migraine, here are some tips that can help you deal with them when they occur.
Ocular Migraine: Information Symptoms And Treatment
An ocular migraine is a type of a headache that causes temporary vision distortion or loss of sight in one eye, and may or may not be accompanied by pain. They are also called eye migraines, retinal migraines or ophthalmic migraines. They might sound frightening, but are typically harmless. They are often caused by sudden constriction or tightening of blood vessels, which results in reduced blood flow to the eye.
Most of the episodes last for about five minutes after which normal vision is restored. In some cases, it might cause damage to the blood vessel area around the retina area, but permanent vision loss is rare.
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Ocular Migraine Vs Retinal Migraine
People may use the terms ocular migraine and retinal migraine to mean the same thing, but there are some important differences. An ocular migraine generally occurs in both eyes. A retinal migraine is rare and tends to occur in just one eye, when vessels that supply the eye with blood narrow. It usually lasts about 10 to 20 minutes and sometimes up to an hour. Symptoms are similar to ocular migraine and may also include complete, temporary vision loss in one eye.
Once the retinal migraine passes, blood vessels open back up and your vision returns to normal. Its a good idea to have retinal migraines checked out by a doctor to make sure symptoms are not signaling a more serious problem.
How Can I Help Prevent Ocular Migraines
Ocular migraines cannot be prevented. It may help to avoid things that tend trigger your symptoms such as foods or bright lights. A healthy lifestyle may help. For example:
- Stay fit with the right kind of exercise for you.
- Learn to manage stress.
- If you smoke, try to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit smoking.
- If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink.
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Recognizing An Ocular Migraine
A migraine aura can often begin before the actual headache or head pain sets in however, it can occur at the same time as well. An ocular migraine typically impacts both eyes simultaneously, though it can affect only one eye and not the other.
Symptoms of a migraine aura can be both positive or negative in nature. Positive symptoms include things that you can see, whereas negative symptoms involve missing portions of vision.
Positive symptoms include:
- Tunnel vision
- Vision loss in one or both eye
Other signs of an ocular migraine, or migraine aura, can include changes or loss of color vision, blurred vision, a kaleidoscope-like fracturing of images, heat waves, distortion in objects , or an appearance of seeing things as if one were looking through water. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, weakness, and head pain are additional possible effects of an ocular migraine.
The National Headache Foundation publishes that visual auras typically precede an actual headache or migraine by about 20 minutes to an hour, although the symptoms can persist with the headache itself. Visual impairments that accompany an ocular migraine can make it difficult to function normally and do things like drive safely or read.
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 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 dont progress to full blown migraine attack?
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How Long Do Retinal Migraine Headaches Last
The headache phase of a retinal migraine begins during or within 60 minutes of the visual symptoms.
People suspected of having retinal migraine should be carefully assessed by their doctor for an underlying cause. As well, they should be evaluated to make sure that they do not have a different primary headache disorder that can mimic retinal migraine. Other primary headache disorders that mimic retinal migraine include migraine with typical aura.
In retinal migraine the visual symptoms should only be present when looking through one eye. For example if you look through the right eye and close the left eye, you see twinkling lights but when you look through the left eye and close the right eye your vision is normal. In migraine with typical aura, when you alternate which eye you look through the visual disturbance will be seen with either eye but possibly more prominent with one eye or the other. This is because in retinal migraine the vision symptoms are coming from the eye , while in migraine with typical aura the vision symptoms are coming from the brain . The distinction between retinal migraine and migraine with typical aura is important for treatment considerations and counselling regarding future outcomes. Irreversible visual loss may be a complication of retinal migraine but not migraine with typical aura. It is unclear how often permanent vision loss occurs with retinal migraine and there are no identified predictors for this currently.
What Causes An Ocular Migraine
Ocular migraines are believed to have the same causes as migraine headaches. As there can be a genetic component to migraines, many patients will have a family history of ocular migraines or migraine headaches. While these can affect children, migraines and ocular migraines frequently start at puberty but most commonly affect adults in their 30s and 40s. Women are more often affect than men.
Ocular migraines are caused by a sudden constriction of blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the eye or to visual pathways in the brain. This is believed to be due to a release of inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels though it is unclear what is the underlying cause for this occurrence.
Common migraine triggers that can cause a susceptible person to have a migraine or ocular migraine attack include certain foods, such as red wine, alcohol, aged cheeses, caffeine, nitrates , and chocolate. Food additives, such as monosodium glutamate , and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame also can trigger migraines in some people.
Other potential migraine triggers include cigarette smoke, perfumes and other strong odors, glaring or flickering lights, lack of sleep and emotional stress. Among women, hormonal changes can be triggersespecially menstrual periods, menopause, pregnancy, and use of birth control pills.
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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 .
How To Prevent Ocular Migraines
As with many headache conditions, each person may experience different triggers for an ocular migraine. It is a good idea to document what you were doing and when the experience occurred so that you can control your exposure to any stimuli that might spur the issue.
If you are driving or doing anything else that requires undisturbed visual acuity when an episode occurs, get to safety and try to relax until the symptoms pass. Limiting exposure to bright light and loud noises often help, especially if you are prone to migraine pain.
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What Type Of Doctor Do You See For Ocular Migraines
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.
Frequent Ocular Migraines: Should I Be Concerned
Ocular migraines can interfere with your ability to perform routine tasks like reading, writing, or driving as they cause visual disturbances and even temporary vision loss. Seek help from pain doctors experienced in diagnosing and treating every type of headache if your symptoms are occurring too frequently and the episodes last longer than the previous ones. Pain management experts at Advanced Headache Center can diagnose the true causes of your pain and recommend the best line of treatment to provide relief.
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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 Im 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.
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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.
Switch Out Hormonal Birth Control Pills
It has been found that hormonal birth control pills will trigger migraines in some people. Its because most birth control options on the market today are estrogen heavy. For people with sensitivities, estrogen also increases the chance of stroke. There are alternative birth control pills available but you have to ask for them.
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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.
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 dont 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 dont drink coffee every day already.
You can read more about using caffeine as a migraine treatment on this post caffeine and migraines.
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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.