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How To Stop A Retinal Migraine

Bright Lights And Loud Venues Should Be Avoided

What If I Have Been Diagnosed with Retinal Migraines?

Blazing lights and noisy areas trigger migraines. Even though you cant avoid them in some situations, knowing that they will be a part of them can help you prepare.

Among them are:

  • Clubbing
  • The suns glare

When youre watching television or using your computer, take a break to rest your eyes and change the brightness of all your computer screens. When you feel a migraine coming on, turn off your device right away.

When migraines begin, keep a strategic distance from all visual and sound influences.

Headaches Behind The Eye In People Over 40

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.

What Causes A Retinal Migraine

Unfortunately, no one is certain about the cause. Some believe its due to a problem with the blood supply to the retina, which is the part of the eye that is most responsible for vision. But some retinal migraines might be caused by a problem in the nerves in the eye or brain, not the retina. Therefore, some experts believe they should be called ocular migraines, which is obviously confusing. Clearly more research is needed.

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Headaches Behind The Eye Or Ocular Migraines

Its important not to confuse ocular migraines with generalised headaches behind the eye. Ocular migraines happen as a result of reduced blood flow to the eye, due to a sudden narrowing of the blood vessels, and usually occur in just one eye.

On the other hand, headaches behind the eyes are usually a symptom of traditional headache-type migraines, which can be caused by a number of conditions and external stimuli. Sensitivity to bright light , some prescription medications or simply staring at digital screens for too long can all lead to migraines and headaches behind the eyes.

What Is An Ocular Migraine

Doctor Migraine Britt Talley Daniel MD

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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How Is It Treated

There are no specific guidelines for retinal migraine treatment, partly because it is so rare. Most clinicians will avoid migraine medications such as ergots and triptans for retinal migraines because they can have an effect on blood vessels.

If you have retinal migraines only sometimes, most clinicians will recommend treating the headache symptoms as needed. Acute migraine treatments include over-the-counter medications, but again, other classes of drugs might not be appropriate for retinal migraines.

If your headaches become more frequent, preventive medication may be necessary. It will mostly depend on how severe your migraines are and how much they affect your day-to-day living.

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.

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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.

Treating And Preventing Migraine With Aura Or Retinal Migraine

Treatment of 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 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.

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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Defining And Treating Migraine

There are many side effects associated with migraine, including nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. This condition can last from a few hours to three days.

Numerous studies have revealed that a large segment of the population gets them. Females experience them more frequently than males, but what causes them?

The most common symptom of a migraine is pain. Migraine can have a variety of causes and symptoms, and they vary from person to person.

In the medical community, it is widely accepted that migraines are caused by changes in blood flow to the brain.

The cause of migraine may actually be genetic or hereditary in origin.

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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Ocular Migraine Triggers And Treatments

Triggers of ocular migraines can include caffeine, chocolate, red wine, blue cheese, nuts, and processed meats. Stress or release of tension, bright lights, and exercise can also be triggers.

Treatments are often unnecessary because the visual disturbance only lasts for a short time, and the headaches arent severe. Some people find that taking an aspirin at the onset of their symptoms can prevent the headache altogether. While caffeine can cause eye migraines in some people, for others sipping a small amount of a caffeinated beverage can stop the symptoms.

It is important to stop driving if you experience any visual effects. If these symptoms last more than an hour, this can be a sign of something more serious, and you should seek medical attention immediately.

What Are The Symptoms Of An Ocular Migraine

Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine

The most common ocular migraine symptom is a small blind spot that impairs your central vision in one eye.

This blind spot expands, making it difficult to drive safely or read using the affected eye.

In addition to the flickering blind spot, other migraine symptoms include:

  • A colorful light ring that is wavy or zigzag and surrounds a central blind spot
  • A blind spot that slowly migrates across your field of vision
  • A migraine lasting between 4 and 42 hours
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Vision loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A headache that feels worse when you move your head

If you have blind spots or other visual symptoms and arent sure whether it’s an ocular migraine or a visual migraine, cover one eye at a time and observe your sense of sight. If the visual disturbance affects one eye only, it is most likely an ocular migraine.

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Types Of Ocular Migraines

  • Migraine With Aura

Ocular migraine with aura is a recurring headache that typically starts at the same time or after sensory disturbances known as an aura. These disturbances include visual changes such as blind spots, tingling in your face or hands. At times, the aura can occur without having a headache.

  • Retinal Migraine

These migraines typically refer to symptoms that manifest only in one eye during or before the headache phase of the migraine episode. Retinal migraines tend to happen repetitively and are short-lasting accompanied by blindness or diminished vision.

The loss of vision is not related to migraines. A more severe underlying condition causes the loss of vision. You might need to see a doctor immediately to get your eyes checked.

What Are The Preventive Treatments For Migraine

Many patients with isolated visual migraines, without severe headaches, have relatively infrequent episodes that do not require specific preventive treatments. If a patient is aware of the particular triggers that seem to bring on an episode, then those triggers can be avoided.

In patients where the pattern of migraines includes frequent, severe headaches, it is very reasonable to consider additional preventive treatments. The main goal for any of these strategies is to reduce the overall frequency and severity of the headaches. None of the preventive treatments is a magic bullet that is 100% effective. For example, it would be considered successful if a preventive treatment helped reduce the number of severe headaches from 8 per month to 2-4 per month.

There are numerous medications that can be used as a preventive treatment for migraine. One medication that is used commonly, particularly because it has no side effects, is vitamin B2 . Approximately 100mg of riboflavin daily is thought to improve migraine headaches . One common side effect of riboflavin is that the urine turns bright yellow. Other herbal medications used to reduce migraine headaches include petasites and feverfew.

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A Guide To Ocular Migraine: Everything You Need To Know

We have all experienced different types of headaches. Most adults get headaches now and then, but how do you know if its serious? But there is a throbbing excruciating pain in your head that usually signals that you do not have a normal headache.

These are signs that you might be having a migraine. The most common neurological disorder is the migraine. It is estimated that a whopping 30 million Americans are suffering from migraines each year. What is even worse is that if you suffer from migraines, you are more likely to suffer a stroke.

Different types of migraines are caused by different things, each with a different set of symptoms.

An ocular migraine is a type of migraine that involves visual interference. Since some migraines, including the ocular migraine with aura, can show similar symptoms as life-threatening conditions, you need to know the differences and knowing when it as an emergency.

When Should You Worry About An Ocular Migraine

Ophthalmic Migraine With a Bizarre Idea on Treating It!

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.

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About Dr Donald Mccormack

As an ophthalmologist, Dr. McCormack diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, prescribes eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems, and performs a wide range of clinical procedures and more complicated eye surgeries. He has special interests in treatments for dry eyes and glaucoma and has been a principal investigator in numerous clinical research trials for these conditions.

  • For an appointment, call

This article is not intended to substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician.

Certain Foods And Additives

When you do reach for something to eat or drink, make sure its healthy. Youll want to avoid trigger foods that are known to cause headaches. These foods often contain high levels of tyramine, food additives like artificial sweeteners or monosodium glutamate .

Here are the foods we recommend steering clear of:

  • Alcohol

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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.

What Are Migraine Triggers

What are ocular migraines? Ocular Migraines

A number of factors can trigger a migraine, whether its ocular, retinal, or classic migraine. The reasons can vary from person to person. If you have ocular migraines, pay attention to these possible triggers:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Relaxation after a stressful time
  • Loud sounds or bright lights
  • Strong odors

Dr. Kim discusses common triggers for migraine headaches.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

What are some triggers for migraines?

Retinal migraines are more likely to be triggered by other factors: intense exercise, dehydration, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, hot temperatures, and tobacco use.

Certain foods can trigger both types of visual migraines:

  • Red wine or other alcohol
  • Food and drink with caffeine
  • Hot dogs, sausage, and other processed meats that contain nitrates
  • Chips, fast foods, broths, and other products with the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Food with the naturally occurring compound tyramine, including smoked fish, cured meats, and some soy products

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Symptoms Of Ocular Migraine

An ocular migraine can have you seeing stars…literally. Or you might get squiggles, or blind spots, or other visual mayhem that makes it very difficultif not impossibleto see. As you might imagine, this can make it hard to do pretty much anything, so an ocular migraine can really ruin your day.

Here are some of the common visual disturbances that happen with a migraine aura, according to a review article published in the Journal of Headache and Pain5:

  • Bright flashes of light

What Causes Retinal Migraine

Doctors do not have a full understanding of migraines and their cause. Migraine aura is likely the result of changes in electrical activity in the brains cortexor outer layer. Retinal migraine may involve similar disturbances, but at the back of the eye. Reduced blood flow to the retina also likely plays a role in retinal migraine.

The difference in the location of the root cause helps explain the differences between visual auras and retinal migraine. Because the brain is the source of migraine aura, visual changes will affect both eyes. However, the eye is the source of the problem with retinal migraine. So, visual problems will only affect that eye.

Like other forms of migraine, there are likely factors that trigger an attack. Triggers vary from person to person and may include hormonal changes, stress, , low blood sugar, and . Exercise, , excessive heat, and high altitude can be triggers as well.

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