Healthy Living

What is an Ocular Migraine?

What is an Ocular Migraine?

Ocular migraines, also known as retinal migraines, ophthalmic migraines, or monocular migraines, are characterized by visual disturbances that occur alongside or after migraine headaches. In this type, the person will have bouts of reduced vision or blindness that remains for a short period. In most cases, the symp

Ocular migraines are characterized by vision problems in one of the eyes, such as:

  • Presence of flashing or sizzling lights
  • Blind spots on the field of vision
  • Blindness in one of the eyes

Headaches of this migraine may continue for a few days, and are often felt on one side of the head. The pain may be moderate to severe in intensity, and tends to increase with any form of physical strain or activity. People with ocular migraines may also have symptoms like nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Few of them find it difficult to differentiate the flashing lights in regular migraine and the blindness or vision disturbances in one of the eye due to ocular migraines.

The actual cause for ocular migraines are still unknown. Some of the factors thought to cause this condition include blood vessel spasms and nerve cell changes in the retina. Ocular migraines may be triggered by certain foods like aged cheeses, caffeine, red wine, chocolate and smoked meats. Food additives, like monosodium glutamate and artificial sweeteners may also initiate ocular migraines for some. Other triggers of this migraine include cigarette smoke, strong smelling perfumes, flickering lights, and stress. People with ocular migraines have a higher risk of permanent vision loss at a later stage. This type of migraine often starts in puberty, but is most commonly seen in the age group between 30-years-old and 40-years-old. Women have a higher risk for developing ocular migraines, when compared to men.

The most appropriate course of treatment for ocular migraines are not clear. Aspirin, epilepsy drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, and beta blockers are recommended in the treatment of this migraine. Since migraines may be triggered by food, it would be helpful if one keeps a record of his or her diet. 

Key Takeaways

  • Ocular migraines can lead to vision loss.
  • Signs of ocular migraines include the presence of flashing or sizzling lights, blind spots on one's field of vision, and blindness in one of the eyes.