What is an ocular migraine?

Ocular migraines cause temporary vision loss or distortion in your vision, occasionally accompanied or followed by a headache. Some people may lose some of their vision for a few minutes. Sometimes people see bright spots or lines that float slowly across their field of vision. They are also called retinal or ophthalmic migraines.

Do ocular migraines damage the eye?

Although frightening, ocular migraines are typically harmless because it is not a problem with your eyes. Ocular migraines are usually caused by a sudden tightening (or constriction) of blood vessels in the brain, which reduces blood flow to the eye. The vision problems usually go away in 30 minutes or less, and are sometimes followed by a headache that typically last less than one hour. Most people recover fully.

What causes ocular migraines?

  • reactions to certain chemicals
  • reactions to certain foods
  • emotional stress
  • physical stress

What are the symptoms of an ocular migraine?

Symptoms vary from person to person, and may include:

  • seeing zigzagging lines or patterns, especially at the outer edges of your vision
  • seeing shimmering or colored lights loss of vision in one spot or off to one side

Who gets ocular migraines?

  • Women more often then men
  • People under 40
  • People who have a personal or family history of migraines or other headaches
  • People who have diseases like lupus, hardening of the arteries, sickle cell disease, epilepsy, and depression.

How do you treat ocular migraines?

Ocular migraines usually require no treatment, other than rest until the symptoms pass. Ocular migraines cannot be prevented.

With typical migraine headaches, but uncommonly with ocular migraines, you can have severe pain following these symptoms. You may also have nausea or vomiting. See your healthcare provider if you have severe pain after the vision problems. This is probably a migraine headache and it can be treated.

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