What Are Ocular Migraines?

by Dec 25, 2019

Ocular migraines can be alarming experiences that result in temporary visual disturbances.  The strange visual symptoms that can come from ocular migraines are sometimes called an “aura,” and can include shimmering lights, bursts of colors, strange distortions, or even blind spots in your vision.  Sometimes these visual symptoms precede a traditional migraine headache, but it is also common for these ocular migraines to occur on their own without any associated pain. Continue reading to learn more about what causes ocular migraines and how to deal with them. 


The Cause of Ocular Migraines

Like traditional migraine headaches, ocular migraines are caused by altered blood flow.  When the blood flow in the brain is temporarily irregular, a migraine headache can occur.  Similarly, when the blood flow to the eye is altered or disrupted, an ocular migraine can occur.  Depending on how and where blood flow is affected, ocular migraines can affect one eye or both eyes.  The visual disturbances associated with ocular migraines usually only last for a few moments, but can be present for 30 minutes or longer.  In some cases, the aura associated with an ocular migraine serves as a warning sign that a painful traditional migraine is impending. Others may experience a headache before or during the visual disturbances, while others may experience no headache at all.  Those who frequently experience migraine headaches along with their ocular migraines should communicate with their primary care doctors in order to find an effective treatment to reduce the number of headaches, or to lessen the severity of symptoms. 


Living with Ocular Migraines

For some people, the onset of visual or traditional migraines is unpredictable.  But in many cases those who frequently experience these conditions are able to identify triggers that increase the risk of an ocular or traditional migraine.  Many people have identified certain foods or drinks as triggers, such as alcohol, processed sugar, gluten, or even meats. Environmental factors such as fatigue, stress, or heat can also be triggers.  Being able to identify what triggers your migraines and avoid them in the future is a vital aspect in learning how to live with migraines, both traditional and ocular. 


When to Worry About Visual Disturbances

Other than the chance of an accompanying headache, there are no risks associated with visual disturbances due to ocular migraines.  However, certain serious conditions can also have symptoms that include visual disturbances. Disturbances such as graying or dimming of vision that comes and goes, particularly if it is only in one eye, can be a sign of blood flow problems in the carotid artery, which is vital for supplying the brain with oxygen.  If this is the case, your symptoms need to be address promptly by your primary care doctor. Other times, people can experience floaters or flashes of light in their vision which seem like temporary visual disturbances, but can be indicative of retinal conditions such as a posterior vitreous detachment, or more serious problems like a retinal hole, tear, or detachment.  If you are experiencing visual disturbances and are concerned about their source, it is best to talk to your optometrist to try and identify the true cause.  

At EyeDocs Family Eye Care, you will recieve only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctor in Brookville, Ohio.  Call us at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online with Dr.Kyle Maxam or Dr. Kara Wampler for your eye exam with a Brookville eye doctor. The next time you need an evaluation ocular migraines or visual distgurbances be sure to come to EyeDocs where we always put the care of you and your family first with our eye care in Brookville, OH.

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