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Ocular Migraine – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

What is Ocular Migraine?

Ocular migraine is described as temporary vision disturbance affecting one or both eyes. The term however is used to describe to conditions wherein one is usually need not have a cause of concern while the other one might signify a serious complication or any other underlying condition. The term ocular migraine is also used to describe retinal migraine and ophthalmic migraine. The difference between these two conditions is the manifestation of the symptom where one only affects one part of the eye while the other one affects both eyes.


Two Conditions Referred as Ocular Migraine

Migraine with Aura

It is used to be known as classic migraine defined as ocular migraine with vision disturbance preceded by a headache affecting one side only. Both eyes will be affected by this condition and it is also associated with other sensation such as numbness, tingling sensation in the face arms and legs and may also be generalized weakness. Ocular migraine is harmless in nature as it tends to fade in a few minutes or so and is therefore not frightening. Permanent vision loss is a rarity in this condition and people suffering from ocular migraine often recover fully.

Retinal Migraine

Retinal migraine affects only one eye and loss of vision is not related to migraine but to other serious health condition that may require medical attention. It is a rare condition with loss of vision or blindness in a short-lived time and is preceded or may be accompanied by headache.

Ocular Migraine Symptoms

The most common symptom of ocular migraine is usually visual effects where a variety of vision can be perceived by an individual suffering from it. The visual symptom usually last not more than 20 to 30 minutes.

Symptoms of ocular migraine include:

  • Loss of vision in one eye that usually subside from 10 minutes to an hour.
  • Scomatas or bigger blind spots in the central vision are experienced which may cross the visual field.
  • Scintillations or bright flickering lights are visualized.
  • Vision of wavy or zigzagging lines surrounding the blind spot can also be seen.
  • Visual disturbances preceded or accompanied by headache that may last an hour or less.

Other symptoms of ocular migraine may also include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Sensitivity to sound

Prodromal symptoms may also be experienced such as:

  • Feeling of irritability
  • Feeling of isolation or withdrawing from people
  • Pins-and-needles sensation across the neck and shoulder and may also be in the hands and legs although frequently experienced.
  • Cravings in certain food or sweets

Ocular Migraine Causes

Migraines are triggered when the brain releases an inflammatory substance on the nerve and blood vessels of the brain and the head. Spontaneity on what transpired for the release of inflammatory substance in the brain and head remains unknown.

It is said that people on their 30’s and 40’s are more prone to suffer from bouts of ocular migraine although if frequently start during puberty and may also affect children. Women are more prone to ocular migraine attacks than men do.

The underlying cause of ocular migraine is unknown but there are factors that can trigger ocular migraine attack and these are:

  • Consumption of too much alcohol
  • Eating food with lots of preservatives
  • Food ingredients containing additives like monosodium glutamate
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Strong odors such as perfume
  • Lack of sleep
  • Loud glaring sound
  • Flickering lights
  • Consumption of caffeinated beverages
  • Emotional stress

Ocular Migraine Treatment

Ocular migraine usually does not require treatment as they usually resolved on their own in less than an hour or so.

It is important to avoid triggers of ocular migraine to prevent it from happening and this can be done by observing or taking records of what triggers ones ocular migraine attack.

Below are list on how to effectively treat and relieve ocular migraine:

  • Take a rest by staying in dark and quiet room
  • Stop smoking if ocular migraine is caused by cigarette
  • Calcium channel blockers are effective in relieving ocular migraine symptoms
  • Aspirin or analgesic may also be taken
  • Take enough rest and sleep
  • Eliminate or avoid food additives

It is best to consult an ophthalmologist or eye doctor who can best prescribed proper and accurate treatment for ocular migraine. Severe form of ocular migraine should see a doctor to better evaluate and assess condition related to ocular migraine episodes.

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