Ocular migraines are non-permanent, visual disturbances that can have an effect on either one or both of your eyes. Such migraines are usually painless and will sometimes lead to blindness in one eye for a short time, usually less than an hour. It is a rare problem, and researchers suggest that its symptoms will manifest as a result of other issues.
However, regular ocular migraine attacks can lead to other vision problems referred to as an aura, which involves flashing lights and blind spots. Other terms that are used to describe ocular migraines include eye migraines, ophthalmic migraines, or retinal migraines. This type of a migraine can interfere with your ability to perform specific functions such as driving, reading, and writing.
What are some Symptoms of an Ocular Migraine?
Typically, you will see small blind spots, referred to as scotoma, that appear to enlarge your central eyesight just before an ocular migraine strikes. The blind spots may occur as flashing lights with sparkles moving in zigzag lines close to the developed blind spot. The broadened blind spot may obstruct your eyesight and render you visionless for some time. The entire occurrence may end within few minutes, but the ocular migraine condition may last for up to 30 minutes.
The other symptoms that you may experience include:
- Moderate to excruciating headaches that may last for up to 72 hours
- Headaches may worsen when engaging in physical activities
- A feeling of numbness may also come in just before a migraine starts
- Unusual eye sensitivity to light
- Sudden and unexplained mood changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling tired for days or weeks preceding the attack
- Craving for certain types of foods
What Causes An Ocular Migraine?
Doctors believe that ocular migraines have similar causes as migraine headaches. The World Health Organization reports that there is also a genetic link to migraines. Studies show that over 70 percent of people who experience the disorder have a family history of ocular migraines.
Migraines are usually triggered by activation of specific mechanisms deep within the brain which release numerous inflammatory substances around the blood vessels and the nerves of the brain. However, medical scientists are still unable to determine the primary cause of these changes. Imaging studies have revealed that changes occur in blood flow to the brain during ocular migraines, but experts have yet to establish the underlying cause of these rapid changes.
Statistics also indicate that this condition mostly affects adults who are in their 30s or 40s but they start experiencing the migraines in their early years and may pass it down to their children. Women are three times more likely to be affected than male adults.
Migraines have also been linked to hormone estrogen which controls chemicals in the brain that usually affect the sensation of pain. Women tend to experience frequent hormone fluctuations due to the menstrual cycle, menopause, and pregnancy. Hormone levels also tend to be affected by the use of oral contraceptives and other hormone replacement therapies which tend to increase their risk of being attacked by ocular migraines.
The best way to deal with an ocular migraine is to visit us at Bellaire Family Eye Care for a comprehensive eye examination. At times, an ocular migraine may occur due to a detached eye retina which is why it is important to get your eyes examined at least once a year.