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Eye migraines: what are the symptoms and causes?

From All About Vision

Eye migraine is a rare condition characterized by temporary loss of vision or even temporary blindness in one eye. Eye migraines are caused by decreased blood flow, spasm of the retinal blood vessels, or in the back of the eye.

In the case of an ocular migraine, the vision of the affected eye usually returns within an hour. This form of migraine can be painless, occur together with or after a head migraine.

Unfortunately, the term "eye migraine" is often used to describe a much more common and harmless condition called visual migraines or migraines with aura. This is characterized by temporary visual disturbances that usually subside within 30 minutes.

Unlike ocular migraines, visual migraines usually affect both eyes.

Now let's take a closer look at eye migraines and visual migraines:

Symptoms of eye migraines and visual migraines

On the symptoms of eye migraines usually includes a small blind spot that affects the central visual acuity of the affected eye. This blind spot is getting bigger, making it impossible to drive or read a book.

In some cases, the entire field of vision of one eye can be affected. Typically, such an episode lasts less than an hour.

The symptoms of a visual migraine can vary. This includes

A visual migraine is often sudden and sometimes gives the impression of looking through a cracked pane. The aura usually moves across the field of vision and disappears within 30 minutes.

  1. a flickering blind spot in the center or near the central field of vision

  2. a wavy or zigzag ring of colored light around a central blind spot

  3. a blind spot that slowly wanders across the field of vision

Visual migraine symptoms usually affect both eyes and last 30 minutes or less. Sometimes, but not always, migraine headaches occur shortly after the symptoms of a visual migraine subside.

If you notice a blind spot or other visual disturbance and you are unsure whether it is an ocular or visual migraine, do the following test: cover one eye first, uncover it, and then cover the other eye . If the visual disorder only occurs in one eye, you likely have an ocular migraine. If it affects both eyes, it is more of a visual migraine.

But don't let it depend on it: if you suddenly notice a blind spot in your field of vision, contact an ophthalmologist immediately. He can determine if the symptom is harmless or possibly a sign of something more serious, such as retinal detachment.

What causes eye migraines and visual migraines?

Eye migraines are believed to have the same causes as migraine headaches.

Migraine headaches are of genetic origin. Some studies show that up to 70 percent of people with the disease have a family history of migraine headaches.

According to the World Health Organization, migraine headaches appear to be triggered by activation of a mechanism deep in the brain. This releases inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels in the head and brain.

Imaging studies have shown changes in blood flow to the brain during eye migraines and migraines with aura. However, why this happens and how it comes to the spontaneous resolution of eye migraines and visual migraines is unknown.

Migraine attack triggers (including eye migraines and visual migraines) include certain foods such as aged cheese, decaffeinated drinks, red wine, smoked meats, and chocolate.

Food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners can also trigger migraines in some people.

Other potential migraine triggers include cigarette smoke, perfume and other strong smells, glaring or flickering lights, lack of sleep, and emotional stress.

Treatment and prevention

As mentioned earlier, visual disturbances caused by eye migraines and visual migraines usually go away within an hour or less without treatment.

If you have eye migraines or visual migraines and you drive or engage in other activities that require sharp vision, stop your activities and rest until your eyesight returns to normal. If you drive a car, park on the side of the road and wait until the visual disturbances have completely subsided.

If you have visual disturbances with migraine headaches, see your GP or neurologist to evaluate your migraine episodes.

Your doctor can tell you about the latest medications to treat migraines, including medications to help prevent future seizures.

It is also a good idea to keep a journal of your eating habits and activities. In this way, you can identify possible triggers right before episodes of eye migraines or migraines with aura and avoid them in the future.

If your eye migraines or visual migraines appear to be related to stress, you may be able to reduce the frequency of your seizures without medication. Try

  • Eat healthy foods on a regular basis

  • avoid typical migraine triggers

  • to sleep a lot

  • Trying stress killers like yoga and massages

Page published in September 2020

Page updated in May 2021