What Are Ocular Migraines?

By | May 8, 2017
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What Are Ocular MigrainesMigraines are experienced by many people all around the world, but little do we know what causes these migraines and how to avoid them. If you suffer from migraine, then you might have come across the term “ocular migraine”. This term can actually be misleading because it is used for multiple situations. Depending on the severity of the problem, the eye specialist can easily assess which kind of ocular migraine the patient suffering is from.

Types of Ocular Migraines

Migraine Aura

The type of Ocular migraine which affects your eye vision is called the “Migraine aura”. Symptoms like numbness in eyes and hazy visions could point towards this situation. The patient also sometimes experience the accompanying headache with this kind of migraine. This situation is more prevalent than the other kind of ocular migraine, which is considered to be grave and severe. Migraine aura is referred as a common problem and it is also not very long lasting.  The symptoms of migraine aura include blind spots, viewing zigzag patterns and seeing stars. The patient might find it hard to focus on book reading or doing normal daily life activities. Patients experience various short periods of diminished vision in retinal migraine. Some patients have also reported seeing shimmering lights and psychedelic images during this migraine.

The term aura is also used to describe that tingly feeling in your hands and that particular period in which the patients suffer from various migraine symptoms before the migraine sets in. This is called “migraine aura” and it happens around 10 to 30 minutes before the migraine pain starts.  The symptoms associated with this aura are:

  • Numbness in face and hands
  • Disrupted senses like not being able to feel touch, not being able to distinguish between taste of foods, and not being able to smell
  • Feeling mentally hazy
  • Seeing shimmering spots, flashes or zig-zag lines

It has been reported that around one out of five people suffering from migraine also suffer from the accompanying auras.

Ocular migraines may also refer to eye-related migraines that come with visual disturbances that may or may not come with a headache pain. These are known as ophthalmic migraines. Ocular migraines can include some or all of the aura symptoms listed above. Ocular migraines are typically the result of migraine activity in the visual cortex of the brain.

However, migraine auras are not considered the kind of ocular migraine you should worry about. The patient might occasionally experience flashes of light in front of their eyes.

Retinal migraine

In contrast to migraine aura, the medical situation called “retinal migraine.” Is considered to be a rare problem. It is considered to be associated with temporary blindness of one eye and therefore is taken very seriously. A person might experience different symptoms like headache along with the loss of vision in one eye.

One way to distinguish between migraine aura and retinal migraine is to see whether your both eyes are getting affected or not. Retinal migraine affects either right or left eye, but not both the eyes of the patient. Retinal migraine is considered as a very serious situation by eye specialists, therefore, make sure to consult an eye specialist as soon as possible if you’re experiencing this type of ocular migraine.

Causes of Ocular Migraine

Common Triggers/Factors

There are various causes of ocular migraine and it can be triggered by a variety of stimulus. Some of them are stated below. If you suffer from ocular migraine then you must take precaution and try to avoid:

  1. loud sounds
  2. sharp lights
  3. brightly lit areas
  4. strong smells

Family History and Genetics Role

In addition to these common triggers of ocular migraine, having a family history of ocular migraine is also a reason for having this issue. This greatly makes you susceptible to having this type of migraine.

Level of Hormones in your body

Apart from these factors, according to the recent studies, the ocular Migraine can also be caused due to fluctuations in the levels of the hormone estrogen in our body. This kind of migraine has been known to cause visual disturbance and it depends whether or not a patient suffers from other classic symptoms of migraine e.g. the headache.

Other Factors Contributing to Ocular Migraine

  1. Consuming different alcoholic beverages like red wine has been known to be linked with ocular migraine.
  2. Drinking coffee in huge amounts or completely if devoid your diet from caffeine, it can also tend to increase the chance of ocular migraine.
  3. Amount of nitrates in your daily diet.
  4. Consuming foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG) in it like different spices, noodles etc.
  5. Consuming diet which has tyramine in it like old cheese, sausages, soy products, beans etc.
  6. Eating foods which contain harmful amounts of artificial sweeteners.
  7. Having an unhealthy lifestyle also contributes to ocular migraine. You should try to regulate your daily sleep cycle. Sleeping early and rising up early abates the risks of having ocular migraine.

Therefore, after analyzing various contributing factors of this type of migraine, it is pretty obvious that it can be avoided and controlled if the patient manages to keep an account of his diet as well as sleep cycle. Moreover, you should keep a record of the triggers which worsen your migraine. Noting down the factors and maintaining a record can help you avoid this type of migraine. Keeping a daily journal regarding your diet, sleep, exercise and menstruation can help you tackled with this problem.

Migraines are no doubt very agonizing and annoying as they hinder you from your daily life activities. They can even contribute to your mood swings and depression. Therefore, the key towards leading a migraine-free life is to assess your lifestyle and regulating it in order to adopt a healthy living. Migraines can be avoided with little tips and tricks, and researching about your migraine can do you a lot of benefits than you think!

If you have any questions or you want to share your experience, please leave your comment below.

Learn How To Reduce The Number Of Your Migraines Naturally

5 thoughts on “What Are Ocular Migraines?

  1. TD Bauer

    Migraines are horrible. I used to get them when I was younger. But I don’t seem to have that problem anymore. I might get one once a year.

    Anybody who suffers from migraines knows it can be a debilitating event when one strikes. It can be impossible to function with a migraine. I would tend to hide away in my room with the shades drawn to avoid all light and sound!

    Great article on migraines. I found another article you wrote an relief tips to be spot on!

    1. Ilias Post author

      Thanks for the feedback TD, happy to hear that you have reduced your migraines.

  2. Rob S.

    I always take care of my eyes and see the ophthalmologist frequently. I experienced migraine aura one time. I had the shimmering spots, flashes or zig-zag lines and it scared the heck out of me because I never had that before. I called the doctor and he explained to me what it was and not to worry. It did go away but I’m glad you wrote about ocular migraines because it is important to know about should you experience this.

  3. sharon

    I have never heard of ocular migraines.
    I suffer every now and again with a migraine and i have to lay in a dark quiet room with a flannel on my head.
    I am not even sure what starts them off all i know is i really dont want it back.
    Reading on here about hormone estrogen in our bodies that could be a trigger for me as i am going through the menopause, do you think that could be the reason?
    I will deffo keep a daily journal:)

    1. Ilias Post author

      Hi Sharon, a migraine journal can help you to figure out some possible triggers and you can show it to your doctor to learn more about your symptoms and triggers.
      It can be many different things that trigger your migraines. So, you need to figure it out it that’s possible.


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