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What To Do When You Have Ocular Migraine

Treatment And Prevention Of Ocular And Visual Migraines

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

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.

Visual Impairments Associated With Migraine Can Happen With Or Without A Headache

Ocular Migraine is a term that has been used to refer to a number of migraine subtypes that are characterized by a variety of visual disturbances including visual loss, blind spots, zig-zag lines, or seeing stars. Unlike other forms of migraine, they may occur without any accompanying head pain. Its not uncommon for a single patient to experience a wide range of visual symptoms. Heres what you need to know to better understand the migraine subtypes that affect vision.

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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The Difference Between Migraines With Aura And Ocular Migraines

Theres nothing like itthe excruciating, throbbing pain in your head that can only be a migraine. If you suffer from migraines, you may have noticed some visual disturbances in addition to your headache. Most likely what you have experienced is a migraine with aura accounting for approximately 20% of all migraines. There is also another less common type of migraine with visual disturbance called an ocular migraine affecting only about one out of every 200 people who have migraines. These two types of headaches are very similar making it very confusing to tell which is which. Read on to learn the distinctions between the two.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of the two conditions are almost the same except for a few telltale signs. The main difference is a migraine with aura will affect both eyes while an ocular migraine affects only one. Both have visual disturbances such as:

  • Flashes of light
  • Shimmering, colored, or flickering lights
  • Floating lines

The visual disturbances tend to go away before the headache begins for the migraine with aura but can last longer for the ocular headache. Also, the headache, which can also be accompanied by symptoms of nausea and severe light sensitivity, tends to be right behind the affected eye of an ocular migraine but can be more spread out for a migraine with aura.

What are the causes?

What to do about them?

Do Ocular Migraine Symptoms Persist

Ocular migraine

Its possible that ocular migraine could persist even after recovery from COVID-19 in some people.

Some people develop headaches that last for months after COVID-19. For example, in one case study, a woman had persistent loss of smell and experienced headaches 80 days after the onset of her symptoms.

She experienced migraine-like headaches during her COVID-19 illness, but she reported that her subsequent headaches felt different.

Researchers are still trying to understand why some people develop long-haul COVID-19 symptoms after recovering from their initial infection. Its possible that increased inflammation and neurological damage play a role.

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Signs And Symptoms Of An Ocular Migraine

Symptoms of an ocular migraine are called auras which can present as a variety of disturbances in your vision. Patients often describe their symptoms as heat waves, dark spots, flickering lights or loss of peripheral vision. Other areas of the brain can also be affected by these blood vessel constrictions causing symptoms such as vertigo, hearing loss, nausea, difficulty speaking, or difficulty with concentration. These auras can be very disconcerting, often sending many patients to the emergency room.

Summary Of Retinal Migraines

Retinal migraines are a subtype of migraine associated with monocular vision symptoms. Patients suspected of having retinal migraine should be carefully assessed by their doctor for an underlying cause. To help distinguish retinal migraine from migraine with typical aura, it is important that people carefully assess whether there vision symptoms are perceived in one or both eyes by alternating looking through either eye. The distinction between retinal migraine and migraine with typical aura has ramifications for treatment choices as well as prognosis counselling.

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Have You Ever Experienced A Strange Disruption To Your Vision Such As Zigzagging Circles Or A Blindspot Surrounded By Wavy Lines

If so, you may have had an ocular migraine. When you hear the word migraine, you probably think of a painful headache, typically worse than an everyday headache. About 37 million people in the United States alone suffer from these intense headaches. However, despite the similar name, ocular migraines dont always have anything to do with head pain.

Ocular Migraines: Symptoms Causes And Treatment

Talking while having an ocular migraine

Ocular migraines are non-permanent, visual disturbances that can have an effect on either one or both of your eyes. Such migraines are usually painless and will sometimes lead to blindness in one eye for a short time usually less than an hour. It is a rare problem, and researchers suggest that its symptoms will manifest as a result of other issues.

However, regular ocular migraine attacks can lead to other vision problems referred to as an aura, which involves flashing lights and blind spots. Other terms that are used to describe ocular migraines include eye migraines, ophthalmic migraines, or retinal migraines. This type of a migraine can interfere with your ability to perform specific functions such as driving, reading, and writing.

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Are Ocular Migraines Small Strokes

Although strokes have similar characteristics and symptoms as ocular migraine, stroke is not necessarily a cause of ocular migraine. Conversely, ocular migraines are not small strokes. The similarity in symptoms make this a common concern, but there are subtle differences.

  • Stroke is sudden, ocular migraine occurs gradually
  • A stroke takes away vision, while ocular migraine adds visual stimuli
  • Stroke is not genetic, but ocular migraine often reflects family history

Knowing the difference between ocular migraine and stroke can save your life.

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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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
  • Changes in weather

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

They May Make You Feel Like Youre Having A Stroke

excruciating headache

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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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.

Migraine Aura With Visual Disturbance

Migraine is a neurological condition that often causes intense headaches. Migraine tends to run in families.

A migraine aura is experienced by about 25 percent of people with migraine, either before or at the same time as a migraine episode.

Usually, people who have migraine with aura dont experience an aura with all of their migraine episodes, just with some of them.

An aura is a temporary visual, auditory, motor, or other sensory change. Visual disturbances can include:

  • seeing a blind spot

Some people with a previous history of migraine report worsening migraine episodes during COVID-19. Some people without a history of migraine report experiencing migraine-like headaches.

A found that among 47 people with COVID-19 who reported having headaches, 24 people reported migraine-like headaches, while 40 percent had symptoms of a tension headache.

Before they developed COVID-19, only 12 of the study participants had previously experienced migraine episodes.

According to a , the most commonly reported neurological symptoms of COVID-19 are headache and loss of smell.

Severe neurological complications such as stroke or seizure have also been reported, although these arent common with COVID -19.

People who develop COVID-19 sometimes develop symptoms affecting their eyes. A found that more than 11 percent of study participants with COVID-19 had eye symptoms.

The most common eye symptoms were:

  • dry eyes or foreign body sensation
  • redness

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A Guide To Healing Ocular Migraines

    One in every 200 migraine patients experiences ocular or retinal migraines that can significantly affect their vision. These attacks are often preceded by aura, which typically affects both eyes. Patients might see spots, patterns or flashes of light before a headache develops, and symptoms range from light sensitivity to temporary vision loss. The worst ocular migraines can cause temporary blindness episode lasting several minutes, although the duration is usually less than an hour.

    How To Cope With Troublesome Symptoms

    What to do if you have migraine?

    I think the best way to cope with some of these symptoms is to rest in a nice dark room with ice packs or a sinus mask on your eyes or a warm wet face cloth. Nice and quiet, calm and peaceful.

    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.

    Listening to a soothing meditation or relaxation CD can help calm you down while you wait for the symptoms to pass.

    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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    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.

    Our Free Guide Gives You 5 Tools For Every Day Migraine Prevention

    Holly Hazen is the creator of Migraine Savvy. Her guidance is guaranteed to give you more confidence in your ability to prepare for that next attack and recover faster. Learning resilience and coping skills now will pay off forever!

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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.

    How Is An Ocular Migraine Diagnosed

    Ocular Migraines: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

    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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    Common Ocular Migraine Triggers

    The cause of ocular migraine is not the same as its triggers. Causes are what prompt the condition in the first place, but triggers provoke the electrical disturbance and mark the beginning of each migraine episode.

    Optical migraine triggers may include:

    • Bright lights
    • Excessive screen use
    • Loud or abrupt sounds
    • Powerful odors, whether pleasant or unpleasant
    • Stress
    • Relaxation after a stressful event
    • Changes in barometric pressure
    • Alcohol, especially red wine
    • Caffeine or withdrawal from caffeine
    • Nitrates and nitrites
    • Monosodium glutamate , a flavor additive found in many prepared foods such as fast foods, seasonings, spices, broths, and chips
    • Tyramine found in aged cheeses, hard sausages, smoked fish, soy products, and fava beans
    • Artificial sweeteners
    • Changes in hormones during or before a menstrual cycle

    These triggers may not always cause ocular migraine symptoms. Often migraines occur as a result of many triggers occurring at once.

    Hide In A Dark Room With A Nice Cold Wet Washcloth

    Lie down, close your eyes and place a cold slightly damp washcloth over your eyes. Hot or cold doesn’t matter, use whatever calms the symptoms. This helps best if you can be resting in a darkened, quiet room.

    Tell people what you are doing and that you need to be quiet and silent for half an hour or so.

    Then just try to drift away and think about walking through the garden, all shaded and safe.

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