Ocular Migraine

When people hear the term migraine, they tend to picture a debilitating, painful headache. However, there are several different types of migraine headaches, and not all of them are painful. Ocular migraines are migraines that cause temporary vision loss and visual disturbances. Although they can be frightening to experience, they are typically not harmful or painful.

What is an ocular migraine?

An ocular migraine is an episode that causes severe visual disruption. These migraines can last anywhere from five to thirty minutes. They may or may not be accompanied by a painful headache. This type of visual disturbance is classified as a migraine because it is caused by changes in blood flow to the brain. Blood vessels constrict, which reduces blood flow to the eyes.

Symptoms of an ocular migraine

Ocular migraines can cause a variety of visual symptoms. People have reported seeing: 

  • Flashes of light 
  • Distorted images 
  • Blind spots 
  • Zigzag lines across the field of vision

These symptoms come on suddenly and may last just a few minutes or up to half an hour.

Ocular migraines are sometimes accompanied by symptoms of a traditional migraine headache including: 

  • Headache pain 
  • Nausea 
  • Double vision 
  • Pain around the eyes

Though scary, ocular headaches do not cause any permanent damage to vision.

Causes of an ocular migraine

Ocular migraines are caused by changes in blood flow to the area of the brain responsible for vision. Migraines have numerous triggers including:

  • Allergies
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Stress 
  • Bright lights 
  • Loud noises 
  • Irregular sleep patterns 
  • Smoking 
  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Certain types of medications

Ocular migraines are most common in women and people under the age of 40.

Treatment of an ocular migraine

There are few answers when it comes to the treatment of ocular migraines. Avoiding known triggers of migraines can be helpful. The best way to deal with an ocular migraine is to lie down and rest until it is over. Avoid driving until the visual disturbances are over.

If you are suffering from ocular migraines on a regular basis, schedule an appointment with your doctor.


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