What Causes Ocular Migraines?
Ocular migraines are a very specific type of headache that occurs in association with temporary loss of vision in one eye. You might also hear them referred to as a retinal migraine. Most are short-lived, lasting less than an hour. While the majority of these are eye-related, the condition can mimic other, more serious, health complaints.
Because of this, it’s vital that you receive an expert diagnosis if you experience any symptoms. The following looks at the causes and treatment of ocular migraines. We also touch on differential diagnoses that may also present in a similar fashion.
Ocular Migraines: causes, symptoms, and treatment
- Ocular migraines: causes
- Ocular migraines: symptoms
- Ocular migraines: treatment
Ocular migraines: causes
Ocular migraines are caused by spasms or reduced blood flow through the blood vessels behind the eye and/or to the retina. The eye relies on a constant flow of oxygen and nutrients. As this is delivered by the blood, any pause or reduction in the flow of blood can result in an ocular.
It’s important to note that ocular, or retinal, migraine is a relatively rare condition.
Ocular migraines: symptoms
The symptoms of the condition are quite specific:
- A headache accompanied by diminished or loss of vision in one eye only
- Generally lasts for less than 60 minutes
- The vision loss might start in your central vision and get bigger. It can also affect peripheral vision
- Some people experience flashes of light or see a mosaic-like pattern
- Seeing bright or flashing lights
While the vision loss is short-lived, the headache may appear before, during, or after the event. It’s usual for the same eye to be affected every time.
Ocular migraines: treatment
Treatment is put in place once a diagnosis has been made. This is determined following a comprehensive dilated eye examination, a detailed case history, and sometimes blood tests or imaging to rule out any other conditions. You’ll likely be asked to keep a headache journal. This will involve keeping track of what you eat, the activities you do, and any medications taken to determine any triggers.
Common triggers include:
- Lack of or too much sleep
- Not eating enough food
- Hormonal changes
- Changing weather
Women in their 30s are more likely to be affected than men and there’s often a genetic link.
Once diagnosed, your ophthalmologist and/or general physician can advise on appropriate medication for the condition. This can range from OTC analgesia (ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, etc.) to prescription meds that treat the pain and nausea.
Differential Diagnoses—conditions with similar symptoms
- Why it might not be an ocular migraine
Why it might not be an ocular migraine
Your ophthalmologist will be keen to rule out other, more serious, medical conditions when assessing your symptoms. The most serious of these is a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or seizures. Other possible similar conditions include cluster headaches or migraine with aura.
Because of the severity of some of these, any episodes of visual disturbances must be assessed as soon as possible. Once you’ve been diagnosed with ocular migraine it becomes a matter of treating the symptoms. Until that time, any type of vision loss should be treated as a medical emergency and professional assistance sought.
Worried About Ocular Migraine? Get Expert Diagnosis and Treatment at the West Boca Eye Center
Ocular migraine symptoms require attention from an ophthalmologist. This is the only clinician who can diagnose the condition and provide effective treatment. At the WBEC, we carry out any necessary testing and imaging to determine whether ocular migraine is the root cause.
If it is, a treatment program will be put in place. This is designed to track symptoms, determine triggers, provide any necessary medication, and—very importantly—put preventative actions in place.
Ocular migraine diagnosis and treatment is but one of the eye specialties this world-leading clinic is renowned for.
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