Most people have heard of migraine headaches, but did you know you can have migraines in your eyes as well?
An ocular migraine occurs when changes in the blood vessels in the optic nerve at the back of your eye cause you to experience temporary visual disturbances or distortions. These can include auras, flashing spots of light, or even shimmering zigzags that suddenly appear in your field of vision. Depending on their severity, the symptoms of an ocular migraine can affect your ability to perform a number of daily tasks, such as using a computer, watching television, reading, writing, or driving.
Ocular migraines are often associated with migraine headaches. Auras and other visual distortions are common symptoms of migraine headaches. However, ocular migraines can occur on their own, and without the pain that usually accompanies a migraine headache.
The Causes of Ocular Migraines are Unknown
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes an ocular migraine. It’s thought that they might occur as a result of a tightening or swelling in the blood vessels in the optic nerve at the back of your eye. This swelling or tightening is responsible for the unexpected light show you experience during an ocular migraine episode.
There is no specific diagnostic test available that can identify ocular migraines; to diagnose your condition, the eye doctor may:
- Perform a comprehensive eye exam
- Review your medical history
- Ask questions about your symptoms, medication use, lifestyle, etc. to identify any red flags
- Refer you to a medical doctor
Like migraine headaches, there are thought to be many factors that can trigger an ocular migraine, including:
- Bright lights
- Loud noises
- Changes in the weather
- Foods containing nitrates, caffeine, MSG, tyramine, or artificial sweeteners
Should I See an Eye Doctor About An Ocular Migraine?
Despite the unsettling effects they have on our vision, ocular migraines are usually nothing to worry about. Typically, ocular migraine episodes resolve themselves after several minutes and do not require medical treatment. Symptoms can be relieved by closing your eyes, removing yourself from bright light, and taking a break from looking at a screen.
However, if you have frequent ocular migraines, or are experiencing an increase in their frequency, you’ll probably want to go in for a comprehensive eye exam. Ocular migraines may be a symptom of a more serious medical condition, such as a head injury, brain tumor, arterial problem, infection, or exposure to a toxic substance.
Retinal migraines aren’t the same as ocular migraines. Retinal migraines are much more serious. Rather than visual distortions, retinal migraines can temporarily cause severe vision loss or even blindness in the affected eye. Consult a doctor immediately if you begin to experience symptoms of retinal migraine.
Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Has it been a while since you had a comprehensive medical eye exam? Regular comprehensive eye exams are the best way to maintain your vision health and prevent vision loss. Call the Berkeley Eye Center today to schedule an eye exam.
Our team of experienced eye doctors has been protecting and preserving the vision of Houstonians for over sixty years. We have locations all over Houston, including the Shops Downtown, Memorial City, Champions, and Harrisburg, as well as Katy, Pearland, Atascocita, Clear Lake, the Woodlands, and other surrounding communities, so there’s sure to be a Berkeley Eye Center close to you. Call us at 713-526-1600 or schedule an appointment online. We accept most forms of insurance and provide a wide range of payment options.