Routine Eye Care

Ocular Migraine

What is an ocular migraine?

An ocular migraine is a temporary problem with your vision that is usually, but not always, painless. You may lose some of your vision for a few minutes. You may see bright spots or lines that float slowly across your field of vision. Ocular migraines are almost always harmless.

How does it occur?

Usually, an ocular migraine is not a problem with your eyes. It is probably caused by temporary changes in blood vessels in your brain. These changes may be caused by:

  • reactions to certain chemicals or foods
  • emotional or physical stress.

If others in your family have ocular migraines, you may be more likely to have them also.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of ocular migraines vary from person to person, and may include:

  • seeing zigzagging lines or patterns, especially at the outer edges of your vision
  • seeing shimmering or colored lights
  • loss of vision in one spot or off to one side.

With typical migraines, but uncommonly with ocular migraines, you can have severe pain following these symptoms. You may also have nausea or vomiting.

How is it treated?

Ocular migraines usually require no treatment, other than rest until the symptoms pass.

Your health care provider may want to make sure that you have an ocular migraine and not a more serious blood flow problem.

See your health care provider if you have vision problems followed by severe pain. This is probably a typical migraine and it can be treated.

How long do the effects last?

The vision problems usually go away in 30 minutes or less.

How can ocular migraines be prevented?

Ocular migraines cannot be prevented.