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Everything You Need to Know About Ocular Migraines

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Ocular Migraines

Ocular or Ophthalmic migraines are inherently harmless and temporary, but highly discomforting. The effects of this illness are relatively short term but extremely dangerous and uncomfortable. It can cause problems such as vision loss or temporary blindness. These symptoms can last up to an hour and it usually occurs with a severe headache (a migraine) or after one.

This is a relatively rare disease, and sometimes this vision loss or temporary blindness is due to other visionary problems. Other forms of migraines can also be responsible for visionary discomfort and experiences such as lights flashing at a high speed, blind spots in both eyes, etc.

An ocular migraine can affect either a single eye or both eyes as well. It is best to understand what your symptoms are stemming from. Your doctor can rule out possibilities of other migraines and pinpoint your condition.

Symptoms of ocular migraines

Doctors refer to this disease as a monocular migraine, retinal, visual migraine and so on. The following are symptoms that can indicate the presence of this ocular disease:

1.     Affecting One Eye

Determining the presence of the symptoms in one eye can be difficult. You may be experiencing loss of vision, lights flashing and blind spots in one eye but in reality, it may be a problem that is affecting both eyes. A change in vision and temporary blindness can occur in episodes and last up to 30 or 60 minutes. This is usually accompanied by a headache that lasts from four to seventy-two hours.

2.     Pain

As mentioned above the pain goes from four to seventy-two hours depending on the severity of the problem. The pain usually affects either the left or the right side of your head, but not both. This is either a constant pain that stays with you and is excruciating. There may be a constant throbbing or pulsating feeling accompanied by the pain. Moving around, opening your eyes or sitting straight may seem to worsen the pain.

3.     Other Symptoms That May Occur

In severe cases, the symptoms of an ocular migraine are not limited to headaches and visionary problems. They can cause vomiting, nausea and even cause sensitivity to sound. Light can be very irritating and almost unbearable for some patients.

What Causes An Ocular Migraine?

The actual causes of this disease are yet to be determined but there are possible explanations that can explain this situation.

Firstly, this may be a result of a migraine that is caused due to visual stress. Other than this, these may be caused by spasms in the nerves that are present in the retina of the eye.


Doctors conduct a thorough examination of the eyes. The first step is to eliminate the following conditions that can result in similar problems:

  1. Lack of blood flow to the eye which is responsible for temporary vision loss
  2. Arteries experiencing spasms, specifically the arteries that supply blood to the eye
  3. Inflammation in blood vessels of the eye
  4. Autoimmune problems
  5. Drug addictions
  6. Diseases that prevent blood from clotting


The best treatment is to immediately stop any activity and let the episode pass. Before these episodes occur it is best to try relaxing exercises. Doctors may also prescribe drugs for relaxation of nerves in severe conditions.

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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