What Triggers An Ocular Migraine
Ocular migraines are caused by a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the eye with blood, this constriction happens suddenly and reduces the amount of blood the eye receives. After the attack the blood vessels around your eyes relax, the normal blood flow resumes and your sight goes back to normal.
Retinal migraines can be triggered by a number of factors, including lifestyle choices and environmental influences. The precise cause of your ocular migraines can be difficult to pinpoint, however you may notice a pattern start to appear dependent on the activities you complete or the food you eat, for example if you skipped a meal you could experience an ocular migraine.
Common triggers of ocular migraines include:
- Stress take time out of your day to relax and unwind, this might be having a bath before bed or finding a quiet place in the office to complete your work
- Smoking this habit negatively impacts your health and affects many aspects of your body
- Low blood sugar making sure that you are eating regular meals will help to keep your blood sugar levels steady
- Hormonal contraceptive pills
- Excessive heat make sure that you feel comfortable, open a window or place a fan next to your desk, do whatever you need to do to keep your body at a regular temperature
- Dehydration its recommend that we drink 6-8 glasses of water a day as water is needed for our body to function properly
- Bending over
- High altitude
How Are Visual Migraines Diagnosed
Visual migraines are diagnosed based on the symptoms you report to your doctor. Before confirming a diagnosis, your doctor will rule out other serious conditions that may cause similar symptoms, such as:
- Amaurosis fugax- a temporary blindness from a blocked artery
- Spasms in the artery that carries blood to the retina
- An autoimmune disease that causes blood vessels to swell
- Giant cell arteritis- a condition that causes the blood cells to swell, leading to vision loss and blindness
- Sickle cell disease and polycythemia- inhibit normal blood clotting
- Drug abuse
Lower High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is part of your bodys warning system that tells you something is wrong and needs to be fixed. It is also a huge contributor to ocular migraines. You need to take the necessary steps to keep it under control by taking your blood pressure regularly, reporting it to your doctor and taking your medication as prescribed.
Additionally, changing to a heart-healthy diet, adding some light exercise like walking and spicing up meals with heart-healthy herbs will really help.
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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.
Ocular Migraine And Visual Migraine Symptoms
Ocular migraine symptoms generally include a small blind spot that affects your central vision in one eye. This blind spot gets larger, making it impossible for you to drive safely or read with the affected eye.
In some cases, the entire visual field of one eye may be affected. Generally, the episode lasts less than an hour.
Visual migraine symptoms can vary, and may include:
Visual migraines often appear suddenly and may create the sensation of looking through a cracked window. The visual migraine aura usually moves across your field of view and disappears within 30 minutes.
A flickering blind spot in the center or near the center of your field of view
A wavy or zigzag ring of colored light surrounding a central blind spot
A blind spot that slowly migrates across your visual field
The symptoms of a visual migraine typically affect both eyes and last less than 30 minutes. A migraine headache may occur shortly after the symptoms of a visual migraine subside or no headache may occur.
If you’re experiencing a blind spot or other visual disturbance and you’re not sure if it’s an ocular migraine or a visual migraine , cover one eye at a time. If the visual disturbance affects just one eye, it’s probably an ocular migraine. If it affects both eyes, it’s likely a visual migraine.
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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.
Be Aware When Bending Over
Ocular migraines are frequently associated with head injuries, especially those that resulted in a concussion and/or blowout fracture. Any change in pressure can trigger one of these migraines. In determining how to prevent ocular migraines with this trigger its important to use caution when bending down. That includes bending to pick something up off the floor or doing any kind of exercise that requires bending such as touching your toes.Just remember that bending over increases the pressure in your head.
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Complications Of Ocular Migraine
Any problems in vision should immediately be reported to a physician. The symptoms of ocular migraine should be investigated fully in order to determine that there is no other disease or condition present.
People who experience ocular migraines may be at risk for permanent vision loss. Patients should follow up with their physician on a regular basis and discuss any changes in their symptoms or their headaches.
- Doyle, E., Vote, B. J., Casswell, A. G. . Retinal migraine: caught in the act Br J Ophthalmol. 88, 301302. doi: 10.1136/bjo.2003.021808 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1772006/
- Gan KD, Mouradian MS, Weis E, Lewis JR. . Transient monocular visual loss and retinal migraine. CMAJ.6 173, 1441-1442.
- Grosberg, B. M., Solomon, S., Lipton, R. B. . Retinal migraine. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 9, 268-271.
- International Headache Society. Retinal migraine. Retrieved from: https://ihs-classification.org/en/02_klassifikation/02_teil1/01.04.00_migraine.html
Ocular Migraines: Common Questions And Answers
Below are some frequently asked questions about ocular migraines:
Can dehydration cause ocular migraines?
Dehydration is one of the triggers of ocular migraines. Keeping your body hydrated will help prevent or reduce the frequency of occurrence of migraines.
Can anxiety cause ocular migraines?
Just like dehydration, anxiety is also a trigger of ocular migraines. The symptoms of ocular migraines can also cause anxiety, which worsens ocular migraines.
Simple reassurance from your doctor will lower anxiety levels and decrease or eliminate ocular migraines.
Can high blood pressure cause ocular migraines?
Researchers are working to fully understand the relationship between high blood pressure and ocular migraines.
Current research points to the fact that migraine attacks are prevalent in people with high blood pressure.
Anyone suffering from high blood pressure is advised to get it under control, especially those with a known history of ocular migraines.
Are ocular migraines a symptom of a brain tumor?
A migraine that is accompanied by vision issues can be associated with certain tumors, such as the occipital lobe tumor.
Although this is a rare condition, migraines are common among patients with brain tumors.
Is an ocular migraine a sign of a stroke?
An ocular migraine is not necessarily a sign of a stroke, but can indicate increased risk.
However, research indicates that people with a history of ocular migraines are at a higher risk of stroke.
In this article
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How Is Retinal Migraine Diagnosed
There arent any specific tests to diagnose a retinal migraine.
If you see a doctor or optometrist during a retinal migraine attack, they may use a tool called an ophthalmoscope to check for decreased blood flow to your eye, but this generally isnt feasible because attacks are usually brief.
Doctors typically diagnose a retinal migraine by investigating the symptoms, conducting a general examination, and reviewing a personal and family medical history.
Retinal migraine is usually diagnosed by a process of exclusion, meaning that symptoms such as transient blindness cant be explained by other serious eye diseases or conditions.
If you need help finding a primary care doctor or optometrist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Treatment Of Migraine With Aura
When you get treated for migraine with aura, the main goal is to prevent and manage pain.
Your doctor may suggest medications to prevent migraine with aura, including:
Your doctor may also suggest you take magnesium or riboflavin to prevent migraine with aura.
Your doctor may also suggest prescription drugs called triptans and ergotamines. If the pain is severe, you may need to get treatment in an emergency room with medications you take through an IV.
If you are vomiting, your doctor may recommend anti-nausea drugs.
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Is Retinal Migraine Dangerous
Most often, a retinal migraine attacks will subside after a short time with no lasting harm, though it can affect your ability to drive safely.
Still, its worth discussing with your doctor and potentially getting an eye examination to look into potential causes and rule out more serious concerns, such as a stroke in the eye.
If its never happened before, losing vision in both eyes at the same time may also be a sign of a more serious problem.
Your head may start to hurt at the same time a retinal migraine affects your vision or up to 1 hour later, or you may not experience a headache at all.
The same is true for the more common migraine with aura.
Retinal migraine is considered relatively rare. Its more common for a different type of migraine to affect vision in both eyes, not just one.
Older research from 2005 puts the frequency at about
Pathophysiological Effectors And Mechanisms
Substance P, nitrous oxide, calcitonin generated peptides have been suspected as chemical effectors in the possible pathophysiological mechanisms of retinal migraine, by exercising a non-desired effect leading to the plasma extravasation, neurogenic inflammation, vasodilatation. Other neuro-ophthalmological structures involved are: periaqueductal gray , locus coeruleus , dorsal Raphe nucleus , retinal vasculature, and activation of the retinal-thalamic-visual pathway .
On the contrary, photophobia in migraine may start in cone-driven retinal pathways, exerting a hypersensitive-excitation effect on light-sensitive thalamic neurons. Photophobia is aggravated by the light-intensity dependence, when the eyes of the patients are exposed to different wavelengths of visible light. Fundoscopy and fluorescence angiogram expose a delayed tilling or occlusion of the central retinal artery and its branches, with, either normal ciliary circulation or irregular/ discontinuous choroidal defects and capillary leakage flux . The vascular theory still remains doubtful due to the complexity of retinal vascular supply. Retina has a binary circulation: central retinal artery supplies, inner retinal layers. Those microstructures lack adrenergic innervation, maintain sensory-nerves and are auto-regulated .
Video-assisted fundoscopy recorded for 1 min. 48 sec during the migraine attack. Dynamic changes in the retinal artery and veins can be detected.
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Key Symptoms Distinguish Retinal Migraines From Migraines With Aura
Retinal migraines also known as retinal migraines are rare, affecting approximately 1 in 200 people. Theyre often confused with migraines with aura, though theyre actually very different.
The hallmark symptom of a retinal migraine is vision loss in one eye lasting less than an hour, and often in reoccurring bouts. Its important to distinguish between vision impairment in one eye one as opposed to one side of your field of vision the latter being a symptom with aura. Like other migraine types, retinal migraines generally cause head pain for most. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to lights and sound. It should also be noted that vision loss in one can be a sign of a different, more serious issue if you experience vision loss in one eye, consult a doctor immediately.
Retinal migraines arent fully understood by scientists. Its thought that the vision impairment may be caused by a spasm of blood vessels around the eye, which cuts off blood flow. For some, retinal migraines may be precipitated by exercise.
If you think you might be suffering from retinal migraines or if youre experiencing vision loss in any way its best to see a doctor.
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 Causes A Migraine
Although migraines are extremely common, their exact cause remains unknown. It appears likely that the visual aura relates to a phenomenon called cortical spreading depression which temporarily affects electrical impulses in the brain. The pain of a migraine headache probably relates to spasm or irritability of blood vessels in the brain, which are sensitive to pain . Beyond these hypotheses, however, the exact mechanism that triggers a migraine remains unknown.
It is often possible to identify certain risk factors that increase the chance of having migraines. A positive family history is very common, so the doctor will often ask about headaches in ones parents or siblings. Overall, migraines are more common in women than in men. In addition, a persons hormonal status can affect the pattern of migraines they experience therefore, it is natural for a woman to notice a change in headaches and other migraine symptoms in adolescence or around the time of menopause.
Many individuals can identify specific triggers for their migraines. These triggers include fatigue, skipping a meal, caffeine withdrawal, stress, and certain foods . For many patients with isolated visual migraines, however, the events can be very infrequent and no definite trigger can be determined.
What Are Migraine Triggers
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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What Do Ocular Migraines Indicate Types Causes Symptoms
While an ocular migraine may be alarming, vision changes are temporary and normal vision generally returns as the blood vessels relax. While there are risks of damage to the retina or blood vessels, severe complications are very rare.
How To Prevent An Ocular Migraine
Ocular migraines, while not very common, can be painful for those who suffer from them. Ocular migraines, which are sometimes called visual or retinol migraines, may cause vision loss or blindness in one eye for a short period of time. This can seem severe or dangerous, so you will want to visit a doctor if you suffer from frequent ocular migraines. Be sure to immediately stop what you are doing and rest until you regain full vision. You will want to schedule a prompt visit to an eye doctor in Orlando so they can check your eyesight and recommend prevention and treatments if you continue to suffer from anymore migraines. We recommend a few techniques to prevent ocular migraines from occurring.
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