Understanding & Treating Ocular Migraine


The first time someone has an ocular migraine can be a frightening experience. The vision changes are often dramatic and come on quickly. The skilled ophthalmologists at Southwest Eyecare have helped patients with this problem, so they are well aware of how startling it can be. Here’s what you should know about ocular migraines and how you can manage the condition.

Ocular migraine: What is it?

Many people who deal with migraines have visual disturbances along with the pain. Most of the time, these affect both eyes and may look like checkerboard patterns, rings around lights, or dim spots in your vision. Ocular migraines, on the other hand, are relatively rare, and they can be more serious.

Also known as retinal migraines, this condition can occur with or without a migraine headache, and the symptoms are more intense. They usually only occur in one eye, and sufferers can see twinkling lights, zigzagging lights, or blind spots in their field of vision.

If you experience a sudden change in your vision and you’ve never been diagnosed with ocular migraines, you should contact an ophthalmologist immediately. The symptoms could also point to a detached retina or eye stroke, both of which require emergency treatment.

What causes ocular migraine?

Like migraine headaches, the causes of ocular migraines are not well understood. Research shows that there are changes in the way blood moves through the brain during an attack. They may be caused by reduced blood flow to the eye or spasms in the blood vessels in the retina.

In many cases, certain triggers induce an attack. These vary by person and can include:

  • Changes in the weather
  • High levels of stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Fluctuating hormones, especially a drop in estrogen
  • Chocolate
  • Foods that contain tyramine, such as aged cheese, smoked fish, soy products, and hard sausages
  • Food additives
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfume
  • Bright or flashing lights

You may be more susceptible to ocular migraines if you have a family history of migraines. Women are more likely to experience them than men, possibly due to the influence of fluctuating hormone levels as a common trigger. Typically, ocular migraines affect individuals between the ages of 30 and 39.

Treating and Preventing Ocular Migraines

If you experience an ocular migraine, the best course of action is to rest until you feel better. Find a dimly lit room to relax in and reduce the pain. It’s important to give your eyes a break from prolonged screen time. A cool compress over the eyes can provide soothing relief for some individuals.

As mentioned, if this is the first time you experience these symptoms, you should contact an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. It is worth seeing a doctor even if you have experienced ocular migraines before. Seeking medical attention can result in receiving a solution that can benefit your condition, and it is always advisable to have a comprehensive evaluation of the condition.

To prevent future attacks, it’s helpful to keep track of your daily activities and what you eat. Your goal is to identify the triggers that cause the migraines so that you can avoid them in the future. This may take a little sleuthing, but the results are worth the effort.

Expert Care, Advanced Technology: Southwest Eyecare Is the Place to Go

If you live in the Albuquerque area and struggle with ocular migraines or any other eye problem, we invite you to see us at Southwest Eyecare. Our staff is dedicated to helping you find answers to keep your eyes healthy and pain-free. Our experienced ophthalmologists are well-educated on the latest technology and techniques to treat a wide range of conditions effectively. For more information, please contact us today!

Image Source: Fizkes / Shutterstock