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Ocular Migraine

woman closing eyes in pain

The name conjures up pain, but ocular migraines are less about headaches and more about a vision problem. Ocular migraines are temporary visual disturbances that can last up to 30 minutes. This condition can affect one eye or both eyes simultaneously. An ocular migraine does not typically cause pain unless accompanied by a migraine headache.

Ocular Migraine Symptoms

Multiple visual symptoms can signal an ocular migraine attack. Ocular migraines can appear suddenly and distort your field of vision like a cracked mirror or window. It is frightening, but the symptoms usually disappear within a half-hour.

A small blind spot will appear, often surrounded with flickering lights and wavy lines surrounding the perimeter of the spot. The blind spot will enlarge and sometimes moves across your field of vision during the ocular migraine attack.

Ocular migraine sufferers can also experience prodromes that develop days or weeks before an attack. Prodromes can cause mood swings, food cravings, and sluggishness.

Ocular Migraine Causes

Many things that trigger migraine headaches are also root causes behind ocular migraines. If you have a family history of suffering from migraine headaches, your chances are much higher for struggling with ocular migraines.

Changes in blood flow to the brain occur while suffering from an ocular migraine. These migraines are triggered by a build-up of inflammation around the nerves and blood vessels in the brain and the rest of the head.

Middle-aged adults are the most common migraine sufferers. Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines.

Common migraine triggers include cigarette smoke, perfume, bright or flickering lights, sleep deprivation, and stress. Certain foods can also be a problem including cheese, caffeinated drinks, red wine, chocolate, smoked meat, and artificial sweeteners.

Ocular Migraine Treatments

Since ocular migraines cause no pain and typically disappear within a half-hour, there is no specific treatment required for this eye condition.

If you are driving, reading or performing a task that requires good vision, stop the activity and relax during an ocular migraine attack. Resume your activity once your vision returns to normal. If it is accompanied by a migraine headache, visit your eye care professional to get an eye exam and discuss some treatment options.

Keep a log of your diet and activities to help you identify ocular migraine triggers. This will help you know what foods to avoid consuming and activities to avoid doing in the future.

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  • "I did see Dr. Bush because 15 years ago my mother-in-law recommended him. He has now retired but I see Dr. Kellam. He is wonderful. The people I have seen there are very professional. Dr. Kellam did my cataract surgery for both eyes and I couldn't be more pleased. Staff at the eye center (which has moved to 2460 Patterson-in Frontier Plaza) and the surgical center (which remains at 1000 Wellington) are thorough, fast, friendly, compassionate and right there to answer any concerns you might have. Highly recommend Dr. Kellam."
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