Ocular Migraines: Where’s the Headache?!

Shimmering lights, abnormal colors, or even a blind spot in your vision… these symptoms can be very alarming if they arise out of the blue.  While there are situations where such symptoms may be indicative of a serious eye problem, they may also be symptoms associated with a harmless condition known as an ocular migraine.  Ocular migraines are relatively common occurrences that may or may not accompany a headache migraine.  If you or a loved one has experienced these temporary symptoms, read on to learn more about their cause.

ocular migraines

Ocular Migraines…without the Headache?!

Just as headache migraines are triggered by temporarily altered blood flow to the brain, ocular migraines are caused by a short-term disturbance of blood flow to the back of the eye.  In the case of an ocular migraine, visual disturbances such as a flickering or moving blind spot, or strange lights and color, may begin to appear in one or both of your eyes. They can last anywhere between a few moments to a half hour.  Oftentimes, these odd visual symptoms resolve completely in a short period of time, and no headache migraine is associated with them. If this is the case, the occurrence is known only as an ocular migraine.

In less common and more unfortunate cases, such visual disturbances occur shortly before a migraine headache. Sometime in the 30 minutes following an ocular migraine, the sufferer may begin to experience symptoms like a throbbing headache, extreme light sensitivity, and nausea.  When an ocular migraine precedes a headache migraine, it is known as a “migraine aura.”

 

Causes and Triggers

Ocular migraines and migraines with aura are both thought to have the same cause; altered blood flow.  However, there may be a multitude of triggers causing this irregular blood flow and resulting in ocular or headache migraines.  For some people, both ocular migraines and headache migraines can be traced back to certain foods or drinks, such as meats, gluten, or alcohol.  Others may find environmental causes behind their migraines, like stress or lack of sleep. Being able to identify the trigger of ocular or headache migraines plays a big role in future avoidance.

For those who have easily identifiable triggers, evading ocular and headache migraines can be simple.  Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. Sometimes migraines are unavoidable, and the visual disturbances or intense headaches can become a burden.  If this is the case, certain steps can be taken to help resolve the temporary condition. Relaxing and ensuring you are in a comfortable, safe environment can prevent any serious harm from occurring as a result of the visual disturbances.  Certain over-the-counter medications can target migraine headaches, and help relieve the pain. For extreme cases of headache migraines, your primary care doctor may consider a prescription to address symptoms and prevent future occurrences.

If you or a loved one regularly experiences ocular or headache migraines, take simple steps to eat a healthy diet, get an adequate amount of sleep, and drink enough water.  In some cases, this may be enough to prevent future discomfort

 

THE NEXT TIME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AN EYE EXAM IN WILMINGTON, DELAWARE THAT SPECIALIZES IN OCULAR MIGRAINES AND MEDICAL EYE CARE, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE GREAT OPTOMETRISTS AT WILMINGTON FAMILY EYE CARE! YOU CAN SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH US TODAY!

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