​​What Are Ocular Migraines?

Ocular migraines, also known as retinal migraines, are where you experience visual disturbances in one eye that precedes or occur in conjunction with a headache. It is a separate condition from migraine with an aura or a headache-type migraine.  

Ocular migraine has symptoms, such as flashing lights or temporary blindness. Episodes tend to be short, with the symptoms fading quickly and leaving no long-lasting effects.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that suffering an ocular migraine isn’t a frightening experience or that you shouldn’t seek further help. 

Read on to discover everything you need to know about the condition.

Ocular Migraine: Symptoms and Causes

  • Ocular migraine symptoms
  • Ocular migraine causes

Ocular migraine symptoms

Symptoms of ocular migraine include:

  • The partial or total loss of vision in one eye: This might be total blackness or a severe blurring that makes it impossible to make out shapes. It tends to last for around 10 to 20 minutes, might worsen during this time, and then gradually return to normal.
  • Headache: This can be concurrent with the visual attack, happen before or come on afterwards.

Ocular migraine causes

There are many reasons an ocular migraine might occur, but the underlying cause is the same: The blood vessels that supply the eye become constricted, so reducing the blood flow. Following the attack, the blood vessels relax once again, and vision is restored. It’s rare for the eye to have any abnormalities or for any permanent damage to occur.

Triggers might include:

  • Exercise
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Bending over
  • Excessive heat
  • Low blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Hypertension

The condition tends to be more common in women, in those under 40 years of age, and it can be genetic. It can also be more likely if you suffer from certain medical conditions, such as:  

  • Lupus
  • Epilepsy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Arteriosclerosis

Diagnosis of Ocular Migraine and When to Seek Medical Advice 

  • How Ocular migraine is diagnosed
  • When to seek medical advice

How ocular migraine is diagnosed 

Diagnosis is usually from the description of your symptoms. Because the attacks are short-lived, it’s unlikely you’ll undergo an examination during a flare-up. However, if this was possible, an ophthalmologist or doctor would be able to use an instrument to visualize the decrease in blood flow to the eye. 

Treatment is usually restricted to regular pain relief, such as aspirin. Other options include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, or anti-epileptic medication. Research is still ongoing as to the best way to treat the condition.

When to seek medical advice 

If you’ve been diagnosed with the condition, then as long as the evolution of an attack doesn’t deviate from the normal, it’s unlikely that you need to seek medical advice.

However, if anything out of the ordinary occurs, such as both eyes being affected, sight loss is worse than normal, goes on for longer, or if this is the first time this has happened, then you should seek immediate medical help. While there is rarely any long-term damage after an ocular migraine, sudden loss or changes of vision can also have other causes—some of which could be sight, or even life threatening.  

Suffer from Ocular Migraine? Don’t Miss Out on WBEC Routine Eye Care 

While the condition isn’t yet wholly understood, there is a potential link between ocular migraine and your eyesight. For those who suffer, ensuring you keep up with regular eye examinations is essential. At the West Boca Eye Center, our highly experienced clinicians have the latest scientific knowledge and will discuss the condition during your routine appointment. 

For those who’ve sought medical advice following an initial attack, getting the necessary specialist tests to rule out any other cause is essential. At the WBEC, we specialize in such treatments, carrying out both routine and emergency requirements. 

Find out more about our global-leading service at https://westbocaeyecenter.com/services/routine-eye-care/