Ocular Migraine: Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

What Is An Ocular Migraine?

Ocular migraine, also known as retinal migraine, is an eye condition that causes visual problems like flashing lights in one eye, or brief attacks of blindness. These episodes can be frightening, however, in most cases they’re harmless, with eyesight returning to normal afterwards. Ocular migraine tends to be more common in women and people aged under 40, as well as people with a personal or family history of migraines or other headaches.

Ocular migraine is a separate condition and should not be confused with migraine headache or migraine with aura, which usually affects the vision in both eyes.

Ocular migraine symptoms

The symptoms specific to ocular migraine may include:

·      Partial or total loss of vision in one eye which usually lasts 10 to 20 minutes before your vision gradually returns

·      Headache which may come on before, during or after the vision attack

Afterwards the blood vessels relax, blood flow resumes and your vision returns. Usually there are no abnormalities within the eye and permanent damage to the eye is rare.

It’s unusual for an episode of vision loss to last any longer than an hour and the same eye is affected every time in almost all cases. Vision may slowly become dimmed or blurred, or there may be flashes of light. Some people see a pattern of blank spots which enlarge to cause total loss of vision. 

If your eyesight suddenly gets worse, make an emergency appointment to see an optician trained to recognise eye abnormalities and signs of eye disease (optometrist), or call MyHealthcare Clinic on 0207 099 5555 to see a private GP.

If you suddenly lose your eyesight, it’s important to see an optometrist or medical doctor urgently, particularly if it occurs for the first time. There are other more serious causes of sight loss that doctors will want to eliminate.

Why do we get ocular migraines?

Causes of ocular migraine

Ocular migraine is caused by the blood vessels to the eye suddenly narrowing and therefore constricting and reducing the blood flow to the eye.

Ocular migraine may be triggered by the following:

·      Stress

·      High blood pressure

·      Exercise

·      Bending over

·      High altitude

·      Dehydration

·      Low blood sugar

·      Excessive heat

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·      Smoking