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Why Do Migraines Affect Your Vision

Spending Too Long Continuously On Your Device

Symptoms in the Eye: Is it migraine? – Spotlight on Migraine S2:Ep16

Even for healthy eyes and brains, staring at your phone screen for a lengthy period of time can lead to headaches and/or eye symptoms for nearly one-third of people.1 The earliest signs of digital eye strain have been shown to develop after just an hour of extended exposure, and they become even more severe at four hours or longer.2 And its important to note that the more you use your mobile device, both on a daily basis and over time, the more likely you are to have multiple ocular symptomsperhaps as many as seven different ones!3

Clearly, focusing on a backlit screen places stress on our visual systems that simply does not exist when performing the same task without the artificial light. Some of this may also be impacted by the specific settings at which we keep our devices as well as other factors like screen glare.

Tension Headaches And Eyesight

Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. They are the headaches you get when your boss tells you that report they said was due on Friday is actually due on Wednesday or when midterms approach and you havent begun studying yet or when the kids wake up screaming at five in the morning.

You know what Im talking about. These types of headaches can happen frequently depending on your stress levels and current health. Often, they manifest themselves as eyesight headaches.

Tension headaches can be caused by stress, a cold or flu, caffeine, alcohol, fatigue, and wearing the wrong prescription glasses or contact lenses. Theyre often not very severe. Will they annoy you and slow you down? Maybe, but they wont debilitate you like a migraine will but well get to that in a moment.

Symptoms of a tension headache include pressure around the forehead , a dull pain or throbbing inside your head and pain in the neck and upper back.

Women are more likely than men to suffer from headaches. Treating a tension headache can be easily done at home if it isnt severe. Taking aspirin occasionally to relieve you of the headache symptoms is quite safe. However, many medical professionals will warn against taking aspirin too often to cure your headaches.

Using aspirin as a crutch will eventually lead to more headaches. Your body will become accustomed to the aspirin that when the medication wears off, you will still be left with a headache.

What Are Some Symptoms Of An Ocular Migraine

Typically, you will see small blind spots referred to as scotoma that appears enlarge your central eyesight just before an ocular migraine strikes. The blind spots may occur as flashing lights with sparkles moving in zigzag lines close to the developed blind spot. The broadened blind spot may obstruct your eyesight and render you visionless for some time. The entire occurrence may end within few minutes, but the ocular migraine condition may last for up to 30 minutes.

The other symptoms that you may incur include:

  • Moderate to excruciating headaches that may last for up to 72 hours
  • Headaches may worsen when engaging in physical activities
  • A feeling of numbness may also come in just before a migraine starts
  • Unusual eye sensitivity to light
  • Sudden and unexplained mood changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling tired for days or weeks preceding the attack
  • Craving for certain types of foods

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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?

Serious Causes Of Headache And Vision Problems

Headaches and Your Vision

Sometimes people with headaches also complain of eye or vision problemslike blurry vision or eye pain. If your eye or vision complaint cannot be attributed to a migraine aura, your doctor will consider other medical conditions that cause a headache and eye problems.

Read Also: How Common Are Visual Migraines

Common Symptoms Of A Migraine

The main symptom of a migraine is usually an intense headache on 1 side of the head.

The pain is usually a moderate or severe throbbing sensation that gets worse when you move and prevents you carrying out normal activities.

In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck.

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.

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What Medications Treat Migraines

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 chemical serotonin. If 2-3 of these drugs have been tried without success, it is unlikely that others within the class will help.

About Dr Donald Mccormack

How Do Computers Affect Your Eyesight?

As an ophthalmologist, Dr. McCormack diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, prescribes eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems, and performs a wide range of clinical procedures and more complicated eye surgeries. He has special interests in treatments for dry eyes and glaucoma and has been a principal investigator in numerous clinical research trials for these conditions.

  • For an appointment, call

This article is not intended to substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician.

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Head Hurt The Link Between Migraines And Your Eyes

We all know that headaches can signal its time for an eye exam. But what is the connection between a migraine and vision care? Sometimes its just referred pain to your eyes, but other times it could mean something more. Learn what to watch out for and some simple tips to help ease your pain.

A more common problem than you might think

More than 37 million people in the United States experience migraines in any given year so many that June has been named National Migraine Awareness Month. These severe pains in the head may last for hours or even days. In addition to a throbbing headache, other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual sensitivity to light, noises, and smells

Migraines occur in at least 15% to 20% of the population, and are experienced equally by men and women.1 A migraine can be triggered by certain physical or environmental factors, such as foods, drinks, activities and exercise, medications, stress, bright or flickering lights, odors, hormonal changes and sleep .2 They can be exacerbated by outside factors such as staring too long at a computer or at the screen of a mobile device, poor lighting and muscle tension from sitting for long periods.

Types of migraines that can affect your vision

Migraines with Aura

Retinal migraines

Can an eye exam help?

If you or someone you know suffers from migraines that involve your vision and eyes, talk to an eye care provider about the symptoms to ensure you receive the treatment you need.

Health tips

Can Eye Strain Cause Headaches

Eye strain is a common condition that is one of many possible causes of headaches. Other types of eye problems can also lead to a headache.

However, the American Migraine Association explains that eye strain is commonly overrated as a cause of headache. Eye problems can cause discomfort in the eye that reflect referred pain from a headache.

Eye problems associated with headaches include:

  • Injury to the cornea.
  • Degenerative disease of the cornea.
  • Eye infection.
  • Acute attack of angle-closure glaucoma.
  • Optic nerve conditions.
  • Giant cell arteritis .
  • Ocular ischemic syndrome.
  • Uncorrected nearsightedness or farsightedness.

According to AMA, most people with headaches do not have an eye condition that causes their headaches. Most headaches are caused by a primary headache disorder, such as a migraine or tension-type headache.

It is possible for headaches to be caused by any of the above eye conditions. Further medical attention from an ophthalmologist is warranted if this is suspected.

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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.

What Are The ‘red Flags’ That My Visual Symptoms Are Not Due To Migraine

Headache Behind Eye

The typical symptoms of a visual migraine are positive, meaning that there is something shimmering or sparkling that is disrupting the vision. Migraines are less likely to cause “negative” symptoms of pure visual darkness. An episode of visual darkness typically requires additional evaluation for other conditions, including a mini-stroke .

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What Is An Ocular Migraine

An ocular migraine is a rare condition characterized by temporary vision loss or even temporary blindness in one eye. Ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye.

In an ocular migraine, vision in the affected eye generally returns to normal within an hour. Ocular migraines can be painless or they can occur along with a migraine headache. Ocular migraines are also called retinal migraines.

Unfortunately, “ocular migraine” often is used to describe a much more common condition called a visual migraine or migraine aura.

Visual migraines also cause temporary vision disturbances. But the vision problems caused by visual migraines affect both eyes, not just one eye, and tend to be somewhat shorter usually around 20 minutes in duration.

Now, lets take a closer look at ocular migraines and visual migraines .

How To Prevent Migraines And Vision Symptoms

There are a few things you can do to prevent migraines and reduce your vision symptoms. First of all, try to avoid the migraine triggers mentioned above. In particular, if you want to prevent vision symptoms, you should:

Quit smoking: Smoking can make your migraine symptoms worse and weaken your body in general.

Consider changing oral contraceptives: Hormonal imbalances can really make your migraines more frequent. To better regulate your hormones, you can reduce estrogen levels by changing from oral contraceptives.

Exercise regularly: Regular exercise is good for keeping your body tension-free. It can also help you get to sleep at night, which is a major factor in chemical balances.

Stay hydrated: Migraines may also be triggered by dehydration. Make sure youre drinking enough water during the day. Eight glasses of eight ounces should do the trick.

Get good sleep: Creating a sleep routine is also a good way to keep your body in balance and avoid triggers related to fatigue and hormonal imbalances.

Eat right: Fill up your plate with fruits and veggies, and cut back on processed foods if you want to avoid dietary triggers. You should also eat regular meals.

You know best what triggers to avoid in order to prevent migraines. In addition to stopping a migraine before it even starts, you should follow these visual-specific tips:

About Dr. Brent Wells

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Aphasia Is A Migraine Symptom That Affects Language

Why does it happen? During a Migraine attack, explains neurologist Dr. Amaal Starling from the Mayo Clinic, when someone is having a Migraine attack:

  • They often feel like they aren’t thinking clearly. There’s some slowing of cognition.
  • Other people may experience speech symptoms, a symptom called Aphasia: difficulty understanding language or expressing words
  • Some people may have Dysarthria: slurred, garbled speech

Never ignore Migraine speech problems. If you’re experiencing speech issues or trouble word-finding for the first time, contact a doctor to make sure it’s not related to a more serious issue, such as a stroke.

If your friends tell you that you’re talking gibberish, or if you find you can’t get the words out, it could very well be a Migraine symptom, regardless of whether or not you’re having head pain at that time.

Aphasia or trouble speaking could be:

What Are The Visual Changes Of Migraine

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Changes in sight usually occur in both eyes, but sometimes in only part of the visual field.1 There are three general types of visual changes with migraine:1

  • Positive symptoms: This describes seeing something that is not really there, like shimmery zig-zag lines, sparkles, dots, or flashes.
  • Negative symptoms: This describes blind spots or tunnel vision.
  • Distorted or altered visual symptoms: This describes a sense of looking through water or colorful, cracked glass. Objects may appear too big or too small.

Ocular migraine is a medical term for a migraine that includes visual distortions.2 Ocular means connected to the eye. An ocular migraine may be classed as migraine with aura or retinal migraine. In retinal migraine, changes in vision only happen in 1 eye before or during the painful part of a migraine attack.2

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Is Your Eyesight Affected By Your Migraines And Headaches

Many of us have had a migraine or a headache that was just so painful that it seemed to affect our eyesight. Though we may have just brushed it off as these vision symptoms being in our head, the truth is migraines and headaches have a significant impact on our eyesight.

Headaches and migraines can cause temporary blindness among other symptoms. What causes this to happen during or after migraines and headaches is not known for sure, but experts have their theories.

Before we get into how migraines and headaches can affect our vision, we need to first distinguish the differences between the two.

Vision Symptoms Of Migraine

During a migraine, you may feel extreme sensitivity to light and sound. In addition, these symptoms may be more severe, including:

Flashes of light

Wavy, blurry or affected vision

Seeing shapes

Vision loss

These are typical vision symptoms for a migraine. However, you should seek emergency medical attention if your headache is severe or accompanied by fever, confusion or trouble speaking.

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Treating And Preventing Migraine With Aura Or Retinal Migraine

For infrequent attacks, medications that target symptoms can be effective, from NSAIDs for pain to anti-nausea medications. Preventative therapies including calcium channel blockers, antiepileptic or tricyclic medications. Quitting smoking is recommended and cessation of oral contraceptives may be advised in certain circumstances. Some options for relief without drugs can include resting your eyes, removing yourself from bright sunlight or other harsh lighting, and taking a break from looking at a screen. As with all types of migraine, try to avoid triggers like stress, dehydration, high altitude, low blood sugar, excessive heat and extensive time spent staring at a screen.

While the symptoms can be disorienting and distressing, they are often short-lived, and almost always reversible. Take some time away from triggers and wait for the symptoms to fade. For more information, visit the American Migraine Foundations resource center, which includes content specifically related to Migraine with Aura, Retinal Migraine and more. The American Migraine Foundation is committed to providing comfort and information to people living with this disease. You are not alone: find your support network today.

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