Ocular Migraines

Ocular Migraines

Ocular migraines are painless, temporary visual disturbances that can affect one or both eyes. Though they can be frightening, ocular migraines typically are harmless and self-resolve within 20 to 30 minutes. They usually do not require any treatment.

What Causes an Ocular Migraine?

According to the World Health Organization migraines “almost certainly” have a genetic basis. It appears migraines are triggered by a mechanism deep in the brain, which releases inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head and brain. Afterwards, the blood vessels relax, blood flow resumes and sight returns. The frequency of these ocular migraines can vary and usually there are no abnormalities within the eye.

It may be triggered by:

  • stress
  • smoking
  • contraceptive pills
  • exercise
  • hypertension
  • bending over
  • dehydration
  • low blood sugar
  • excessive heat

It tends to be more common in:

  • Women
  • Those under 40
  • Family history of migraines
  • Underlying disease such as lupus, hardening of the arteries, sickle cell disease, epilepsy, giant cell arteritis.

Someone who has migraine with “aura” will usually experience warning signs, such as flashing lights, before experiencing a severe headache at the front or side of their head. If you are driving, pull off to the side of the road as soon as you can safely do so, and wait for the vision disturbances to completely pass.

If your ocular migraines or migraine headaches appear to be stress-related, you might be able to reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks without medicine by simply:

  • Eating healthful meals on a regular basis
  • Avoiding common migraine triggers
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Yoga and massage

You should have a comprehensive eye exam with an Optometrist  whenever you experience unusual vision symptoms to rule out sight-threatening conditions such as a detached retina, which requires immediate attention.

Did you know that you are entitled to a FREE eye examination every two years or every year if you have a change in your vision under the medical card scheme and employers PRSI scheme?