Migraine Headache and Eyes

Migraine Headache and Eyes
Dr. Nafiseh Hashemi Ophthalmologist Encino, CA

Dr. Nafiseh Hashemi is an ophthalmologist practicing in Encino, CA. Dr. Hashemi specializes in eye and vision care. As an ophthalmologist, Dr. Hashemi can practice medicine as well as surgery. Opthalmologists can perform surgeries because they have their medical degrees along with at least eight years of additional training.... more


Migraine is a neurological condition characterized by headaches that can be severe. It is very common, affecting about 18% of women and 8% of men. Most patients with migraine have throbbing headaches with nausea and vomiting or sensitivity to light and sound. The pain from migraine can last for a few hours up to a few days. While migraines are not a threat to your overall health, they can interfere with your quality of life.


The exact cause of migraine is unknown, but it may result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. During a migraine attack, alterations in brain chemicals lead to local dysfunction of parts of the brain and changes within blood vessel walls. These changes lead to severe headache and other symptoms detailed below. There is a genetic predisposition to migraine as it often runs in families.


The most common symptom of migraine is headache. This is usually one-sided and pounding, but can affect both sides and be steady. It is frequently associated with nausea, vomiting, light-sensitivity, and sound- sensitivity. The headache may last for several hours up to a few days. Other symptoms that may accompany migraine include motion sickness, dizziness, smell-sensitivity, poor appetite, mood changes (such as irritability or depression), and tiredness, among others. Rarely, migraine can cause double vision, eyelid droopiness, changes in pupils size, difficulty speaking or understanding others, weakness, or numbness. These symptoms are rare and need to be investigated further by your doctor to make sure that nothing else is going on. 

People with migraine may experience visual vertigo, which is feeling nauseous or dizzy when they scroll down or up on the computer, or walking in the isle in the big stores with big boxes on both sides.

Migraine may cause nerve fiber loss during ischemic attack associated with vasospasm.

People with chronic migraine may develop thinning of retinal nerve fiber layer (nerve layer in the back of your eye) which has shown in multiple studies. This nerve fiber loss may cause visual field defect.

Severe migraine can cause transient ischemic attack (TIA) and even stroke. Given the irreversible neurological damages from severe and chronic migraine, it is prudent to use prophylactic medications like propranolol. Most of people with chronic migraine know their triggers and if they understand about possibility of neurological dysfunction because of repetitive migraine headaches, they might consider taking the avoidance from triggers more seriously. The well known triggers are including: Emotional stress, Lack of sleep or oversleeping; exposure to too much light, noise, or intense odor; drinking Beer, Red wine; eating chocolate, old cheese, spicy/greasy food.

These triggers are different for every migraine. Every person with migraine headache should have a diary and write down the events or foods that triggered her/his headache.

Most of women will find the relationship between their headaches and their hormonal changes, which unfortunately is not avoidable most of the time. Oral contraceptive pills may make the headache worse and some ladies experience worsening their headaches during their pregnancy.

The pattern of migraine usually changes with age. Some people get less headache but experience more vertigo, weakness, nausea and visual symptomes when they get older. 

In summary, migraine is a wild disease that may affect many organs in your body; it is not only a headache!