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What Is A Vision Migraine

Treating And Coping With Migraine

Ocular migraines with vision disturbance: Should I Worry?

Migraine can be debilitating and impact your quality of life. If youre experiencing blind spots or vision disturbances, for example, you will want to wait until they pass before driving.

Ocular migraine will typically go away with time. 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 you can use to treat recurring migraine flares. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or Excedrin Migraine may also help reduce the symptoms.

Other medications that may help you manage ocular migraine include:

  • beta-blockers

How Do You Treat Ocular Migraines

Treatment isnt always necessary for ocular migraines as symptoms usually go away own their own after about half an hour. Wed recommend resting your eyes until your symptoms pass, and taking painkillers as recommended if you have an accompanying headache. Otherwise, the best thing you can do is to avoid exposure to common triggers.

However, because ocular migraine symptoms are similar to those caused by a stroke-type event in the eye, its important that you seek medical advice from your GP quickly so that further investigations can be considered.

If you have any concerns about the frequency of your ocular migraines, visit your GP who may also be able to recommend further treatment.

What Is A Migraine Trigger

Most migraine sufferers learn what their triggers are. A trigger is an action or event that tends to lead to the migraine starting. Sometimes a person needs to have a combination of triggers to occur before they get a migraine.

Some common triggers include:

  • Certain foods such as red wine, chocolate, caffeine or aged cheese

For many sufferers, no trigger can be found.

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The Road To Migraine Freedom

No two people experience migraineor respond to therapythe same way. A pill that helps one person may do nothing for another, and preventative treatment can take months to work.

You may have to try several medications to find one that works for you.

Managing migraine takes time and patience.

I am at the beginning of that journey. Ive adjusted my lifestyle, I take supplements, I keep a migraine journal, and I have a prescription on hand. Now that I recognize the early symptoms of a migraine attack, I know when to avoid triggers, get extra rest, and take my medication. If Im lucky, I can nip it in the bud.

For me, understanding my condition is half the battle. Im not constantly wondering what is wrong with me, or whether its all in my mind. When an attack comes on, I can explain why Im not myself. I dont feel as guilty about taking it easy or asking for support. And most importantly, I know Im not alone.

Visual Disturbance Of Migraine Is Short

Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine

The visual disturbances of migraine generally last less than an hour, most commonly 10-30 minutes. Sometimes they only last seconds. They may or may not be associated with a headache, and some individuals only experience the visual symptoms without headaches. The visual symptoms usually start before the headache but may occur during the headache.

To complicate the issue, migraine may change throughout life. The character of the headache may change, and the visual symptoms may change. The most common pattern is for the headaches to become less severe or even go away, with episodes of visual aura persisting. Some people only experience migraine-related visual symptoms, often without headache, starting at age 50 or later.

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What Causes Migraine Aura Without Pain

The causes of migraine aura without pain or headache arent fully understood. However, you can learn more about specific triggers by keeping a journal or diary. Keep a record of when your episodes occurred, how long each one lasted and what the symptoms were like. In some cases, this can help you figure out what triggers your migraine auras.

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.

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Can Diabetes Cause Kaleidoscope Vision

Diabetes can cause kaleidoscope vision. Diabetes is a disease that happens when your blood sugar, also known as your blood glucose, is too high.9

Blood glucose, which comes from the food that you eat, serves as your bodys primary source of energy. The hormone insulin helps transfer the glucose from your diet into your cells for you to use as energy.

Sometimes, your body does not make enough insulin , if any at all . In this case, glucose stays in your blood, causing your blood sugar levels to increase.9

While one in four people dont know that they have diabetes, 30.3 million people in the United States have it. In fact, about one in four people who are over the age of 65 years old have diabetes.9

Diabetes can cause several subsequent health problems, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and eye problems. High blood sugar can ultimately cause ocular migraines that can, in turn, cause kaleidoscope vision.

What Medications Treat Visual Migraines

Ocular Migraines Explained –

Drug therapy is mainly aimed at lessening pain during the early and generally most painful phases of migraine headaches. Those who have repeated migraine episodes may need long-term preventive therapy. The following drugs are used to quickly stop migraine headaches in progress. They are often called abortive drugs because they abort, or stop, the headache. These drugs are used only to treat headaches and do not help relieve problems like back pain, arthritis, or menstrual cramps. The first group of drugs is within the triptan class. Drugs in this class are all very similar in their action and chemical structure and target the brain’s chemical serotonin. If 2-3 of these drugs have been tried without success, it is unlikely that others within the class will help.

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Migraines Stage Two: Aura

Symptoms in this migraine stage usually occur within the hour before the headache occurs. Most symptoms of aura are visual, and this is the stage where will answer our title question: Can migraines cause double vision? Here are some of the symptoms of migraine with aura.

  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Speech problems
  • Numbness or weakness in the face and the limbs
  • Vision loss Fortunately, vision loss associated with migraines is temporary and usually resolves within an hour
  • Visual disturbances including seeing flashes of light, floaters of different shapes and sizes, and yes, blurred or double vision

What Causes Ocular And Visual Migraines

Currently, there is limited research on what causes ocular and visual migraines.

Although studies have shown a change in blood flow into the eye during ocular migraines,the exact cause of this change remains unclear.

However, scientists sometimes associate the condition with genetics, meaning it may run in the family.

According to research, up to 70% of migraine patients have a personal or family history of migraine.2

Migraine triggers play a vital role in the onset and frequency of migraines.

Common migraine triggers include:3

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Is It Hard To Diagnose

Migraine aura without pain can be hard to diagnose. It can be confused with stroke or seizures. Your doctor will have to rule out other, more common, health conditions before diagnosing you with migraine aura without pain. A migraine diary is an important tool in helping your doctor accurately diagnose silent migraine.1,,2

How Can I Treat Migraines Without Using Medicines

What are ocular migraines? Learn about the causes ...

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.

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Other Conditions That Can Cause Blurry Vision

Sometimes, blurry vision can be caused by something other than a migraine attack. These can include:

  • Low blood sugar.When your brain is deprived of glucose, its primary source of fuel, the result can be a headache and blurred vision.
  • Stroke. Symptoms of a stroke can include a sudden, severe headache and/or blurred vision in one or both of your eyes.
  • Ministroke. A ministroke, also referred to as a transient ischemic attack , can have symptoms that include headache and blurry vision. TIA is a sign that you are at risk for an impending stroke.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning. When carbon monoxide deprives the brain and body of oxygen, common reactions include vision problems and headache. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so you may not notice if you breathe it in. When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it binds to the hemoglobin in your blood, preventing it from carrying oxygen to your tissues and organs.
  • Hemangioblastoma. A progressive headache and blurred vision can be signs of a hemangioblastoma, a rare type of tumor. According to a 2013 case study, these rare tumors account for 12.5% of all abnormal growth in the cranial cavity.

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.

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Visual Symptoms Of A Migraine

Kaleidoscope vision is a component of only one type of visual aura. Understanding the other types of visual disturbances that may accompany a migraine can provide more clarity.

The 3 types of visual auras are:

Positive Visual Aura

This is when a person sees something that isnt actually there. For example, a person experiencing a positive aura may see zig-zag or squiggly lines, flashes, stars, or dots. These perceived shapes may be colorful and move around the visual field or grow larger. A visual hallucination is also considered a positive aura.

Negative Visual Aura

This is characterized by any loss of vision during a migraine, whether partial or total. With negative auras, one may experience blind spots, loss of peripheral vision, or a brief period of total vision loss.

Altered Visual Aura

This type of aura distorts what you see without adding or subtracting anything. For example, one may perceive a straight line as wavy or blurred. Kaleidoscope vision is considered an altered aura.

Other forms of altered aura include misperceiving the size of an object , distorted distance perception, and distorted or absence of color.

If you experience any of the above symptoms with a migraine, seek medical attention to rule out more serious conditions, like retinal tearing or stroke.

How Is An Ocular Migraine Diagnosed

What is an ocular migraine?

Ocular migraine is diagnosed with a patient history, physical examination, and other tests such as:

  • Eye screening test
  • Patient sits in a chair in a room with the lights out
  • A doctor looks through the lenses of the ophthalmoscope to examine the eyes
  • Patient may be asked to look in various directions during the examination
  • Indirect examination
  • Patient lies down or is seated in a reclined position
  • A doctor can see structures at the back of the eye in a little more detail with this method
  • The lens of the ophthalmoscope is held directly in front of the eye
  • Patient may be asked to look in various directions during the examination
  • A small, blunt probe may be used to apply a little pressure to the eye
  • Slit lamp examination
  • A slit lamp provides greater magnification of the back of the eye than an indirect exam
  • Drops may be administered to dilate the pupils
  • The slit lamp positioned across from the patient who rest their chin and forehead on the instrument
  • A bright light is shined directly into the eye and a microscope is used to evaluate the back of the eye
  • Other tests
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    What Is Visual Disturbance

    Visual disturbance is when you experience a short spell of flashing or shimmering of light in your sight. The symptoms normally last around twenty minutes before your sight returns to normal. Usually, there is no headache during the visual disturbance. A visual disturbance should not be confused with a retinal or ocular migraine where there is a partial or total loss of vision in one eye, normally with a headache.

    Why Do Vision Changes Happen With Migraine

    Doctors have a few ideas of what may cause vision changes during a migraine attack. Changes to electrical charges in the cortex of the brain may be the cause. Retinal migraine may be caused by the same electrical changes in the eye. Lack of blood flow to certain areas of the brain or eye may be the problem.2

    More research is needed to find out what causes the visual changes that come with migraine.

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    What Do Visual Disturbances Look Like

    • Black spots, threads, wiggly lines that float across your vision. We call these floaters. This visual disturbance can occur with or without flashes of light.
    • Patches of shimmering light or flashing lights.
    • Psychedelic colours, distorted colours and shapes, or kaleidoscope vision.
    • Zig-zag patterns or dark spots in your vision.

    These are all associated with visual aura of migraine.

    Treatment Options For Fixing Kaleidoscope Vision

    A Guide to Ocular Migraine Vs Visual Migraine: Symptoms ...

    If you are experiencing an altered aura like kaleidoscope vision because of visual misalignment, wearing eyeglasses to correct your vision can help.

    You can also take some medications to help with ocular migraines. These may include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. Consult your doctor about your migraine symptoms to determine which option is best for you.

    If your kaleidoscopic vision is a result of an underlying health concern like diabetes, seek medical attention. You will need to treat diabetes as the root of your vision problems. For example, your doctor may give you a strict diet plan to follow, and its important to move your body more.

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    What Causes Kaleidoscope Vision

    There are a few causes of kaleidoscope vision. Typically, migraine headaches are at the root of visual disturbances like kaleidoscope vision.

    Migraines are common. Eighteen percent of women and 6% of men experience them.2

    There are different types of migraines, but a visual migraine is usually what causes kaleidoscope vision. Your brains nerve cells fire erratically, which can cause aches and pains, as well as some visual disruptions. Fortunately, these types of migraines usually pass in about 10 to 30 minutes.7

    However, while visual migraines are often mistaken for retinal migraines, they are different. A retinal migraine happens in just one eye and causes you to see scintillations and scotoma .

    Retinal migraines can also cause temporary vision loss or peripheral vision loss. You will experience visual symptoms first, followed by a headache within the hour.4

    If you have frequent or persistent migraines that cause visual irregularities of any kind, consult your eye specialist. Kaleidoscope vision and migraines in general can be a symptom of a more serious underlying health concern unrelated to an eye disease. For example, it could be an early symptom of a stroke, brain injury, or other neurological disorder.

    How Disabling Is Migraine

    Migraine is the worlds third most common ailment and the leading cause of disability in those aged 15 to 49.

    In the peak productive years of most peoples lives and careers, this is the most disabling condition, says Dr. Christine Lay, a Professor of Neurology and the founding director of the Headache Program at the University of Toronto.

    Three times as many women as men suffer from migraine. Our migraines also last longer, happen more often, and are more intense. More women experience nausea, aura, and sensitivity to light and sound.

    Despite being such a common and disabling disease, migraine is sorely misunderstoodeven by physicians. According to Lay, close to 50 percent of patients with migraine are misdiagnosed they are often told they have a tension or vascular headache and dont receive appropriate treatment. Among those who are accurately diagnosed, half are given the wrong therapyor their treatment isnt adjusted when it needs to be. She says its critical for doctors to be educated about the disorder.

    In medical school, the average doctor will receive only four to six hours of teaching in headache, says Lay, Yet migraine is one of the most disabling health conditions.

    Because of this misunderstanding, migraineurs often lack the support and empathy they need.

    As a result, people try to power through their migraine attacks. But migraine can make it impossible to get work doneand causes an even greater loss of productivity than calling in sick.

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    What Is The Medical Treatment For Visual Migraines

    After making the diagnosis, the doctor should provide counseling about treatments that do not include taking drugs, for example, regular rest, good sleep habits, and exercise. The doctor may ask neurologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, and/or neurosurgeons for their opinions and help.

    Migraineurs should avoid potential triggering factors.

    • They may need to stop taking drugs that worsen the headache.
    • If oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy might be a potential trigger mechanism, it is best to reduce dosages . If headaches persist, the migraineur, in consultation with the doctor, should consider stopping hormone therapy.


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