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Ocular Migraine: Symptoms, Prevention, And Management

Ocular Migraine: Symptoms, Prevention, And Management

June 8, 2020


Ocular migraine affects the vision. The visual disturbances are temporary and in almost all cases there is no permanent harm to vision. Symptoms include seeing a blind spot and temporary vision blackouts in one eye. Ocular migraines may be caused due to spasm in blood vessels supplying blood to the retina. Ocular migraines may or may not be accompanied by headaches.

Ocular Migraine

An ocular migraine is a subtype of migraine. It results in a temporary loss of vision. An ocular migraine is rare but when it occurs significantly reduces the quality of life. Unlike the typical symptoms of migraine, ocular migraine may not have headaches or eye pain. In serious cases, it may result in temporary blindness.

People who have migraines are at increased risk of developing an ocular migraine. Patients with ocular migraine find difficulty in performing routine tasks during the episodes of ocular migraine. However, the condition is temporary and is not considered serious. Ocular migraine, especially for the first time, leads to anxiety. Increased levels of anxiety further exacerbates ocular migraine attack.

Symptoms Of Ocular Migraine

Symptoms vary from patient to patient and depend upon the extent of severity of ocular migraine. Following are some of the symptoms that are experienced by the patients with ocular migraine:

  • Blindspot that usually starts with a small dot but gradually becomes bigger. Blindspot generally occurs in one eye and affects the central vision.
  • Temporary vision loss
  • In severe cases, temporary vision loss may be in one or both the eyes.
  • Flashing lights in one eye.
  • May or may not be accompanied by headaches.

Visual Migraine Vs Ocular Migraine

Visual migraine and ocular migraine are two different conditions. Both have different symptoms. While ocular migraine generally affects one eye, the visual disturbances with visual migraines are usually experienced in both the eyes. To check whether you have an ocular or visual migraine, check your vision by covering one eye at a time. If visual disturbances are experienced in one eye, you probably have an ocular migraine and if it affects both the eyes, it is visual migraine.

Although the symptoms of both types are similar, visual migraine may have following unique symptoms:

  • Blind spots that are flickering and migrate in the visual field.
  • Wavy and zig-zag light
  • Migraine aura
  • May be accompanied by a migraine headache

Causes Of Ocular Migraine

Why ocular migraine occurs and why it lasts for a certain period remains unknown. However, various studies are done to find how ocular migraine occurs.

An ocular migraine is believed to be caused due to the activation of a system that results in the release of inflammatory mediators deep inside the brain. There is a change in the flow of blood inside the eye during an ocular migraine. This altered blood flow is due to the spasm in the blood vessels of the retina. Certain changes also occur in the nerve cells of the retina.

Ocular migraine also has a genetic impact. Many patients with ocular migraines have a family history. The common triggers that can initiate ocular migraines include glaring lights, strong odours such as perfume or smoke, stress, poor sleep, and eating specific ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and caffeine.

Prevention Of Ocular Migraine

You can prevent ocular migraines by identifying and avoiding the triggers. Make a note or activities you were doing before the start of a migraine. This will help you in identifying and avoiding the triggers.

Take proper sleep and reduce the stress by various stress-reducing techniques. Eat a healthy diet and avoid directly looking at glaring or flickering lights.

Handling Ocular Migraine

You may be prescribed certain medications that will reduce your frequency of ocular migraines. Keep those medications handy. Avoid being in the environment of strong perfume or cigarette smoke odour.

If you are driving and experience symptoms, park the vehicle on the roadside and wait for the symptoms to disappear. Relax and take complete rest during ocular migraine episodes.

Visiting An Eye Specialist

If you experience the symptoms of ocular migraine, book an appointment with the best ophthalmologist near you. The symptoms may be either because of ocular migraine or due to certain other vision-threatening conditions such as retinal detachment. Your ophthalmologists will perform a comprehensive ocular examination to diagnose the exact reason for your symptoms.


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