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Ocular Migraines

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By Author: Tatum Eyecare
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Most people are familiar with classic migraines, but ocular migraines are less well-known. An ocular migraine is a condition where the blood vessels in the optic nerve at the back of your eye tighten and swell, resulting in various visual distortions. While classic migraines usually result in intense headaches, sensitivity to light and loud sounds, or nausea, ocular migraines are not necessarily painful.

If you’ve never had an ocular migraine before, your first one can be frightening. Although sudden vision impairment can also be a sign of stroke or carotid artery disease, true ocular migraines don’t actually indicate or cause any damage to your eyes or brain. You can often tell if you’re about to experience one if you start to lose your ability to see the focal point of your vision. For example, you might be able to see a street sign but not be able to read the text on it. The onset of an ocular migraine can last anywhere from about three to eight minutes.

The aura stage, or “light show” as many sufferers call it, usually follows the onset. This stage affects more than just the focal point of your vision. ...
... You might see something that looks like a lightning bolt moving about in your peripheral and central vision. Some people compare this stage of an ocular migraine to looking through a kaleidoscope. Everything appears very fluid, and you can become quite disoriented. Retinal detachment displays similar “light shows,” only these types of light flashes typically last for only a split second and come in flurry form, rather than kaleidoscope form.

The causes of ocular migraines differ from person to person, and sometimes they are just unexplainable. Some say chocolate or caffeine triggers them, while others believe stress and certain medications are a factor. Still, other sufferers say they experience ocular migraines randomly. Once an ocular migraine has begun, it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to stop. The migraine aura typically disappears in about 30 to 40 minutes, and headaches (if you get them) come about 10 to 15 minutes after the aura stage.

My advice to those who suffer from ocular migraines is to just relax and enjoy the show. The more relaxed you can be, the better the odds are that you won’t bring on a stress-induced headache—a common side effect—when the show is over.

Other than that, just be aware of what’s happening and be sure to contact your primary care physician or eye doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the symptoms above.
Tatum Eyecare is North Phoenix’s premier family eye care center. We’ve spared no expense to create the most pleasant, comfortable patient experience… including the finest furnishings, the best selection of prescription eyeglass frames, the most cutting-edge technology, and the most outstanding team of industry professionals. Come see why the choice for family eye care in the Valley has never been clearer.

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