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.
A Cure For Ocular Migraines
Q: I read your article on ocular migraines and I have some questions. I’ve been taking medication for GERD for seven years and have been a long-distance runner for seven years. After about five years of this, I started getting ocular migraines. Eventually, they started occurring several times per week.
I read some information that suggested taking B vitamins, especially B12, might help. I tried that. Within two weeks, the ocular migraines were gone. Could this really be the root of the problem? If so, maybe it would help others if you considered adding this to the article. S.S.
A: I am aware of a few research studies that have demonstrated a relationship between B vitamins and folic acid intake and a reduction in the frequency of migraine headaches. However, I’m not aware that any of these studies were specific to ophthalmic migraines. Nonetheless, thank you very much for this information. Dr. Slonim
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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.
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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.
Causes Of An Ocular Migraine
Although doctors don’t know the exact causes of an ocular migraine, there is some indication that it might be the result of spasms in the blood vessels that flow through the retina . The effect causes changes which spread across nerve cells. This is a rare condition, but because of the danger of permanent vision loss in one eye, it is important for sufferers to talk to their family physician for solutions.
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How Do I Know If I Have An Ocular Migraine
By | Submitted On March 20, 2007
To many people, a migraine headache is a migraine headache. They assume, falsely, that all migraines are pretty much the same. So when one of the 15% of our population that suffers from migraine says they have an ocular migraine, non-sufferers may raise a skeptical eyebrow. The truth is, however, that there are many different kinds of migraine.
Define Ocular Migraine
An ocular migraine is a type of migraine that focuses on that part of the aura in which visual symptoms predominate. There may never be an actual headache.
Symptoms of Ocular Migraine
If you are familiar with regular migraine pain, and now hear of ocular migraine, you may very well ask, “How do I know if I have an ocular migraine? I have no headache.”
An ocular migraine is sometimes called a migraine without headache. It is a migraine that distorts images when you look at them. The distortion usually begins in the image’s center, and then moves to one side. Ocular migraine is likely to affect only one eye at a time. As an ocular migraine progresses, images may turn grey or wavy. You may even lose your sight temporarily.
Doctors differ in their understanding of ocular migraine. Some say that ocular migraine is more likely to occur as you get older. Others say it is typically seen in young adults. It can be quite frightening, as you may think you are losing your sight forever.
Specific Symptoms of Ocular Migraine:
Ocular Migraine Symptoms Are Temporary
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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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
The diagnosis of retinal migraine is one of exclusion and all other causes of vision loss should initially be considered. All members of the healthcare team should be vigilant and refer the patient for immediate and emergent assessment for stroke or other thromboembolic causes for their symptoms if the patient presents with visual loss or changes.
Symptoms Of Retinal Migraine
The symptoms of retinal migraine may include:
- partial or total loss of vision in 1 eye this usually lasts 10 to 20 minutes before vision gradually returns
- headache this may happen before, during or after the vision attack
It’s unusual for an episode of vision loss to last longer than an hour. The same eye is affected every time in almost all cases.
Vision may slowly become blurred or dimmed, or there may be flashes of light. Some people see a mosaic-like pattern of blank spots , which enlarge to cause total loss of vision.
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Frequent Ocular Migraines: Should I Be Concerned
Ocular migraines can interfere with your ability to perform routine tasks like reading, writing, or driving as they cause visual disturbances and even temporary vision loss. Seek help from pain doctors experienced in diagnosing and treating every type of headache if your symptoms are occurring too frequently and the episodes last longer than the previous ones. Pain management experts at Advanced Headache Center can diagnose the true causes of your pain and recommend the best line of treatment to provide relief.
What Are The Causes
The exact causes of ocular migraines are not definitively established. However, many scientists think that the symptoms that you experience happen because of reduced blood flow to the brain. Spasm in the blood vessels is what causes a reduction in blood flow.
The source of visual disturbances in ocular migraines is the retinal blood vessels. Contrarily, the source of migraines with aura is the occipital cortex, which is located at the base of the skull.
Since the source of the problem in aura migraines is not the eyes but the brain, you will still experience the sensory disturbances even when you close your eyes.
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With Or Without A Headache
An ocular migraine can affect a person’s vision but not accompany a headache. This can make diagnosis confusing since many other medical conditions also include visual disturbances. Flashes of light that don’t go away within an hour could be caused by retinal detachment, and loss of vision that occurs often might be a sign of a stroke. It is important to check with an ophthalmologist for visual disturbances that recur or last longer than an hour or two at a time.
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 Are The Acute Treatments For Migraine
An isolated visual migraine, without headache, typically does not require any acute treatment, since the visual symptoms resolve on their own fairly quickly. The first few times someone experiences a visual migraine it usually causes a lot of anxiety. Once someone has become familiar with the symptoms of a visual migraine, new episodes no longer cause the same level of anxiety.
It can be helpful to try to rest during the episode. Some patients benefit from other strategies, including eating something, having caffeine, or taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
Patients in whom the visual symptoms are accompanied by a severe headache often benefit from additional therapies. The goal of these medications is to try to cut short the headache before it becomes too severe. Some patients find naproxen , which is a stronger anti-inflammatory medication, to be helpful. Other patients try a class of medications known as triptans.
Triptans are specially designed to work on receptors on blood vessels and brain cells in order to halt a migraine at an early stage. Although there are a number of different triptans, made by several different pharmaceutical companies, each of these is approximately equally effective. Triptans are often taken orally, but also come as injections and nasal sprays. These medicines are generally not considered safe in patients with a history of strokes, heart attacks, or other vascular diseases.
What Causes An Ocular Migraine
A classic migraine scenario involves a trigger in a patients environment which causes blood vessel constriction in certain parts of the brain. Triggers can include stress, fatigue, bright lights, certain visual patterns, caffeine or certain foods. Blood supply is then limited to these areas of the brain and their ability to function properly can be affected. If this involves the visual cortex where vision is processed, it is referred to as an ocular migraine. For most patients these auras resolve in a matter of minutes or hours without any headache. However for others, a classic migraine headache will develop. Patients may experience this migraine scenario only once in a lifetime or it may happen repeatedly.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- Will my child grow out of their migraines?
- What medications do you recommend for me?
- What should I change about my lifestyle to prevent my migraine headaches?
- Should I get tested?
- What type of migraine do I have?
- What can my friends and family do to help?
- Are my migraines considered chronic?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Migraine headaches can be devastating and make it impossible to go to work, school or experience other daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to possibly prevent a migraine and other ways to help you manage and endure the symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to keep migraines from ruling your life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.
Tips For Managing And Preventing Visual Migraines
If your visual migraine occurs frequently, here are some tips to help you prevent or manage the condition.
- Acupressure. This is an evidence-based practice of applying pressure with hands to specific points on the body to relieve pain and other symptoms. It can be an effective alternative therapy for migraine headaches.
- Lavender oil. Lavender oil can be inhaled or applied diluted to the temples to ease your migraine pain.
- Peppermint oil. According to a 2010 study, the menthol in peppermint oil can minimize migraines.6 The research showed that applying menthol to the forehead and temples relieved migraine-related pain, nausea, and light sensitivity.
- Yoga. Yoga uses breathing, meditation, and body postures to promote health and well-being, relieving the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines.
- Massage therapy. Massage reduces stress and enhances coping skills. It also lowers heart rate, anxiety, and cortisol levels.
- Herbal supplements. Butterbur and feverfew are common herbal remedies that may aid with migraine pain and frequency reduction.
- Avoid Triggers. Ocular migraine triggers such as caffeinated foods, alcohol, dehydration, smoking, or stress
- Unwind at the end of the day. Basic things like listening to soothing music or taking a warm bath after a long day can help your body relax and prevent migraines.
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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.
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 Common Are Ocular Migraines
Q: Thank you for the information you have published about ocular migraines. I’ve had numerous episodes over the past five years, but most recently was last week when I was two and a half hours away from my home. It took over an hour for it to totally go away. I appreciate your explanation of the usual symptoms, because it described what I experienced to a “T.”
I had one question, though. Other sources on the Internet say this phenomenon is rare. But you say it is quite common. Is it? B.M.
A: Ophthalmic migraines are not rare, especially if you are a woman under age 40 with a history of migraines. Dr. Slonim
How Can I Treat Migraines Without Using Medicines
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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What Is An Aura
An aura is a group of sensory, motor and speech symptoms that usually act like warning signals that a migraine headache is about to begin. Commonly misinterpreted as a seizure or stroke, it typically happens before the headache pain, but can sometimes appear during or even after. An aura can last from 10 to 60 minutes. About 15% to 20% of people who experience migraines have auras.
Aura symptoms are reversible, meaning that they can be stopped/healed. An aura produces symptoms that may include:
- Seeing bright flashing dots, sparkles, or lights.
- Blind spots in your vision.
- Numb or tingling skin.