Ocular Migraines: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Annette GallagherFebruary 28, 2018September 30th, 2021No Comments

Photo Credit: steph photographies, shutterstock

Ocular migraines are a striking and unusual phenomenon that can produce a lot of concern in the people who experience them. Because these migraines are transient and have symptoms that can be hard to describe, this serious condition is often significantly under-diagnosed.

What is an Ocular Migraine?

An ocular migraine is a temporarily visual distortion that can present symptoms in one or both eyes. This can come in a variety of forms, but it often appears as a classic “aura” around objects, particularly in bright conditions. An ocular migraine may precede the onset of migraine pain, including a one-sided headache with a “throbbing” component.

A blind spot in the patient’s central vision is the most characteristic symptom. The spot may move across the visual field and might grow over time. Bright “lines” in a wavy pattern might be perceived. Flickering or flashing lights can also appear.

What Causes Ocular Migraines?

Ocular migraine triggers vary based on the underlying cause of the problem. In most cases, there is a genetic basis – members of the patient’s family have also suffered from ocular or common migraines. Changes in brain chemistry and blood flow are known to occur during migraines.

In some cases, it is possible to reduce the duration of the episode by going to a dark, quiet place as soon as possible. While this is not always practical, it helps ocular migraines to subside within about 30 minutes. Migraine pain can occur alongside them or shortly after they dissipate.

How to Prevent Ocular Migraines

As with many headache conditions, each person may experience different triggers for an ocular migraine. It is a good idea to document what you were doing and when the experience occurred so that you can control your exposure to any stimuli that might spur the issue.

If you are driving or doing anything else that requires undisturbed visual acuity when an episode occurs, get to safety and try to relax until the symptoms pass. Limiting exposure to bright light and loud noises often help, especially if you are prone to migraine pain.

Ocular Migraine Treatment

On its own, an ocular migraine does not produce pain and is not associated with long-term loss of vision. However, it could be indicative of other neurological concerns potentially associated with a chronic headache condition.

While there are many potential treatments, the road to lasting relief begins with sound diagnosis. National Headache Institute is the only medical clinic completely dedicated to developing the best diagnostic and treatment protocols for people suffering from headache pain.

If you’ve experienced an ocular migraine, you don’t have to suffer in silence! Schedule an appointment at your nearest National Headache Institute location for personalized care.