Ocular Migraines

Ocular migraines are painless, temporary visual disturbances that may affect one or both eyes. They are usually harmless and disappear within 30 minutes. Medication is not normally required.

Migraine Headache Coming From Your Eyes

If the ocular migraine is followed by a throbbing, headache that is on one side, this is called a “migraine with aura”.

If there is no visual disturbance, this is known as “migraine without aura”.

The aura’s are usually visual, but can affect your hearing, speech or smell. There may also be a numbness or tingling in the face or arms or legs.

Symptoms of Ocular Migraines

You may notice a small blind spot that slowly gets bigger in your central vision.

Flashing or flickering lights or wavy zig-zag lines around the blind spot.

It may last only a few minutes but may go on for about 30 minutes.

Causes of Ocular Migraines

It may be genetic. Most people who get migraines have a family history of migraine headaches.

Migraines are triggered by activation of a mechanism deep within the brain, which releases inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head and brain. Why this happens, and why it gets spontaneously resolved is unknown.

Migraines most commonly affect adults in their 30’s and 40’s, but they may start at puberty and can also affect children. Women are more affected than men.

Certain foods can trigger a migraine attack. Theses include aged cheese, caffeinated drinks, red wine, smoked meats and chocolate. Artificial sweeteners can also trigger an attack in some people.

Other triggers include cigarette smoke, perfumes and other strong smells, bright flickering lights, lack of sleep and stress.

Treatment of Ocular Migraines

Ocular migraines are typically harmless and don’t normally require treatment as they disappear within 30 minutes. If you are driving and an ocular migraine occurs, pull over to the side of the road and rest until your vision returns to normal.

See your doctor if you want advice or want to try to prevent future attacks.

Also, it is very important to make an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist whenever you experience any unusual visual symptoms. This will rule out any sight threatening conditions like a detached retina, which requires immediate attention.

Make a note of the foods you were eating and your activities just prior to the migraine attack to see if you can identify certain triggers and avoid them in the future.

If your migraines are stress related, try eating healthier foods on a regular basis, get plenty of sleep and try relaxing activities like a massage or yoga.

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