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What To Do If You Have An Ocular Migraine

What Is The Difference Between An Ocular Migraine And A Retinal Migraine

The ONLY Ocular Migraines Solution That Works Consistently (3 Simple Steps)

The term ocular migraine can be confusing. It generally means a headache thats accompanied by changes in vision. But the term is often used interchangeably to refer to two different conditions: migraine aura, which usually isnt serious, and retinal migraine, which could signal something serious.

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

Are There Steps You Can Take To Lower Your Stroke Risk

Yes, there are things you can do starting right now to lower your risk of stroke. For one thing, be sure to have a complete physical every year and see your neurologist for migraine prevention and treatment. Ask your doctor about:

  • medications that can lessen the frequency of migraine attacks
  • an assessment of your risk factors for stroke
  • birth control methods that dont increase your risk of blood clots

There are also lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of stroke. Some of the most important include the following:

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When To Get Medical Advice

If your eyesight suddenly deteriorates, make an emergency appointment to see an optician trained to recognise eye abnormalities and signs of eye disease , your GP, or contact GP out of hours service.

It’s important to see an optometrist or doctor urgently if your eyesight suddenly gets worse, particularly if it occurs for the first time.

There are other more serious causes of sight loss that doctors will want to rule out.

Schedule A Comprehensive Eye Exam

Ocular Migraines: Risks, Symptoms, and Treatment

Has it been a while since you had a comprehensive medical eye exam? Regular comprehensive eye exams are the best way to maintain your vision health and prevent vision loss. Call the Berkeley Eye Center today to schedule an eye exam.

Our team of experienced eye doctors has been protecting and preserving the vision of Houstonians for over sixty years. We have locations all over Houston, including the Shops Downtown, Memorial City, Champions, and Harrisburg, as well as Katy, Pearland, Atascocita, Clear Lake, the Woodlands, and other surrounding communities, so theres sure to be a Berkeley Eye Center close to you. Call us at or schedule an appointment online. We accept most forms of insurance and provide a wide range of payment options.

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What Are The Symptoms Of An 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.

Finding Ocular Migraine Relief

rebound headachesdating back to the mid-1980sAxon Optics migraine glassesResources:

  • NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/retinal-migraine.
  • Retinal Migraine Is an Oxymoron : Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology. LWW, Oxford University Press, journals.lww.com/jneuro-ophthalmology/Fulltext/2007/03000/_Retinal_Migraine__is_an_Oxymoron.1.aspx.
  • Anonymous . Arizona RETINA Project, azretina.sites.arizona.edu/content/ocular-migraines-0.
  • Carson-DeWitt, Rosalyn, and Colleen Doherty. What to Know About Retinal and Ocular Migraines. Verywell Health, Verywellhealth, www.verywellhealth.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-retinal-and-ocular-migraines-3862386.
  • Doyle, E, et al. The British Journal of Ophthalmology, Copyright 2004 British Journal of Ophthalmology, Feb. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1772006/.
  • Most Cases Labeled as Retinal Migraine Are Not Migraine : Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology. LWW, Oxford University Press, journals.lww.com/jneuro-ophthalmology/Fulltext/2007/03000/Most_Cases_Labeled_as__Retinal_Migraine__Are_Not.2.aspx.
  • Nichols, Hannah. Retinal Migraine: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314917.php.
  • Ocular Migraines Explained All About Vision . All About Vision, www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/ocular-migraine.htm.
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    Ocular Migraine Treatment And Prevention

    Because they generally are harmless and typically resolve on their own within a half hour, ocular migraines usually require no treatment.

    If you are performing tasks that require good vision when an ocular migraine occurs, stop what you are doing and relax until the visual disturbance passes. If you are driving, pull off to the side of the road as soon as you can safely do so, and wait for your vision to return to normal.

    There is no test to confirm the diagnosis of ocular migraine. Nonetheless, whenever you are experiencing unusual visual symptoms such as those described here, it is recommended that you undergo a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor. This is important so as to rule out sight-threatening conditions such as a retinal tear or detachment, which require urgent attention and/or treatment. Rarely, ocular migraine symptoms can also be associated with stroke.

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    Lets Talk About Ocular Migraines

    Talking while having an ocular migraine

    The purpose of this post is to define the difference between classic and ocular migraines. Also, before I launch into specifics, I would like to start with this:

    Flashing lights in your eyes can be concerning, as they can be a sign of retinal detachment or other retinal problems. It is essential to see an ophthalmologist if you have flashing in your eyes. An eye exam can reveal problems with the vitreous fluid, the retina, or even signs of a stroke.

    Now, lets talk about migraines. This blog talks about two types:

    Classic Migraines are thought to be caused by spasm of blood vessels in the brain. If this happens in the temple area, the result can be a severe, one-sided headache, sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting.

    If, on the other hand, the spasm of blood vessels occurs in the back of the brain where vision is processed, this could be an Ocular or Eye Migraine. This condition can be one cause of visual disturbances that often do not need treatment. However, its still essential to have a complete eye evaluation to rule out more serious causes.

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    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

    What Is An Ocular Migraine Aura

    So, lets talk aura, those sensory changes that can accompany migraine . Aura most often manifests as visual disturbances, according to the Mayo Clinic4. But you could also experience different sensations, like hearing music or feeling like someone is touching you. When we’re talking about an ocular migraine, we’re only talking about the visual symptoms.

    While some people experience an aura before their migraine headache strikes, an ocular migraine refers to the experience of only experiencing visual disturbanceswithout the stereotypical migraine head pain.

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    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.

    You Can Still Take Birth Control

    1000+ images about Ocular Migraines on Pinterest

    If youre a woman who suffers from migraines with aura, you may have heard that theres also an elevated risk of stroke if you take estrogen-based oral contraceptives. However, if you have no other risk factors , a migraine specialist may feel comfortable prescribing these to you. It may also stabilize your estrogen levels to make your migraines better, says Dr. Wall.

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    Are Ocular Migraines Harmful

    In general, ocular migraines are not considered harmful. Most people have no symptoms other than blindness or blind spots. Neither retinal migraines nor full ocular migraines are, in and of themselves, harmful. However, in some cases, retinal or ocular migraines may be a sign of a more serious problem. If you have a retinal or ocular migraine, its important to consult with a doctor as soon as possible to undergo an evaluation and ensure your symptoms dont signal a larger problem.

    Most of the time, ocular migraines are not caused by actual visual symptoms nor is their trigger within the eye. Instead, they are caused by migraine activity within the visual cortex of the brain.

    What Is The Cause

    The exact cause of ocular migraines is not known. Usually an ocular migraine is not a problem with your eyes. Ocular migraines may be related to a problem with the blood flow in your brain or they may happen with changes in brain chemicals. Ocular migraines may have the same triggers as migraine headaches, such as:

    • Stress
    • Certain foods, such as red wine, cheese, or chocolate
    • MSG or food preservatives, such as nitrates
    • Bright lights

    Ocular migraines tend to run in families.

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    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.

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    What Type Of Doctor Do You See For Ocular Migraines

    Aura Migraine – 5 Facts You NEED to Know About Vision Loss from Visual Aura

    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.

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    Is There A Connection Between Strokes And Ocular Migraines

    Currently, there isnt a definitive answer. But some researchers believe that ocular migraine and stroke have a connection. The connection, they believe, has to do with damage to the cells lining your blood vessels. The inflammation of the cells can cause them to become stiff and hence increase the risk of suffering a stroke.

    Also, people who have migraine with aura are twice as likely to suffer a stroke as those who have no migraines.

    They May Make You Feel Like Youre Having A Stroke

    A migraine with aura isnt just visual. Dr. Rothrock says that some people have sensory auras, which means they get numbness or tingling in their face or hand. This can be misdiagnosed as a stroke or partial seizure, he says. A patient history is one of the best ways to make the diagnosis. An MRI can rule out a stroke.

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    Diagnosis Of An Ocular Migraine

    The diagnosis of an ocular migraine is often made by comparing the patients symptoms to the criteria established by the IHS. Migraines can be difficult to diagnose other conditions that could be causing the symptoms need to be ruled out.

    The potential difficulties of making a diagnosis is the reason the IHS have established criteria to help clinicians to make a proper diagnosis.

    The diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of an ocular migraine from the IHS Classification ICHD-II are:

  • Two attacks in which the patient experiences the symptoms outlined in B and C.
  • The patient sees flashing lights , a blind spot , or experiences blindness in one eye. A healthcare professional must be able to confirm these symptoms with an examination or a detailed drawing/description.
  • The patient experiences a headache, meeting criteria for a migraine without aura. The headache may begin at the same time as the visual symptoms, but must begin within an hour after the symptoms start.
  • An eye exam performed when there are no ocular or migraine symptoms turns up no evidence of any disease.
  • There is no other explanation, such as another disease or disorder, for the symptoms.
  • There are several other conditions that should be ruled out when symptoms of an ocular migraine are present. These other conditions may have similar symptoms, but will require different treatments.

    Unfortunately, there is a long list of other causes of ocular symptoms that should be ruled out, including:

    Complications Of Ocular Migraine

    The 25+ best Ocular migraine ideas on Pinterest

    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

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    Coping With Ocular Migraines

    Ocular migraines can be distressing, but they are temporary. If you notice vision changes that are bothering you, find a dark, quiet place to relax until they pass.

    Migraines are often treatable, but because there are many different medications available, it may take some trial and error to find the ones that prevent or lessen the frequency of your migraines.

    Lifestyle changes, like getting good sleep and eating regularly, and knowing your triggers may help reduce the frequency of your ocular migraines.

    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.

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