Identify and Treat Ocular Migraines

While many people suffer from traditional migraine headaches, it is not uncommon for others to suffer from a different type of migraine. Traditional migraines are characterized by sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, powerful head pains and nausea. Another type of migraine is harder to diagnose because the symptoms characteristic of a traditional migraine are either not present or less severe. Ocular migraines are becoming more common in today’s society. These types of migraines are associated with vision and the eye more so than the brain.

Ocular migraines often start with a small blind spot in the peripheral vision. Over five to ten minutes, the spot gradually increases to encompass the entire peripheral portion of vision. Either complete blindness or object fuzziness often results. Other ocular migraine sufferers report a jagged shimmering light in their peripheral vision that grows and eventually overtakes much of the eye. It is often difficult to focus on objects. Reading in particular is very difficult since letters in words have to be viewed almost individually in order to be read. The individual might also become disoriented since they are now primarily seeing out of one eye instead of two. A dull, throbbing headache normally accompanies an ocular migraine. The blind spot or fuzziness will normally disappear with twenty to thirty minutes, leaving the individual fatigued. The individual might also still have some problems reading and focusing on particular objects since their eyes are adjusting again. Individuals normally do not have any sort of light or sound sensitivity, though it is not uncommon for ocular migraine sufferers to be nauseous due to either the temporary blindness or the panic of not knowing exactly what is happening.

Many scientists speculate that the causes of ocular migraines are similar to those of traditional migraines. A change in blood supply is often associated with traditional migraines and it is thought that the area impacted by the blood supply change is the only difference between the types of migraines. Traditional migraines are normally generated from the surface area of the brain. Ocular migraines are generated when the blood supply is reduced to the vision center of the brain. Much like traditional migraines, it is thought that certain “triggers” exist for ocular migraines. These include chocolate, stress or anxiety, lack of sleep, travel and artificial sweeteners. Limiting as many triggers as possible should help reduce the occurrence of ocular migraines. It has also been theorized that seasonal allergies could contribute to ocular migraines since the atmospheric changes would be similar to those of someone traveling cross-country via airplane.

At the onset of an ocular migraine, it is important to not panic. It can be disturbing to go slowly blind in one eye over fifteen minutes, but it is important to remain calm. Finding a quiet, dark area to rest in for thirty minutes is an excellent way to counteract the disabling effects of an ocular migraine. Being able to sit in the dark with eyes closed helps to limit some of the nausea and inability to focus on objects. Normal headache treatments such as aspirin or Tylenol can be used, but these are more effective in dealing with the headache following the visual disturbance than the actual visual impairment. By the time the medicine works, the visual impact has ended. Some ocular migraine sufferers report taking a short nap helps reduce the fatigued feeling following the visual disturbance and also reduce the impact of the headache.

If you have experienced visual impairment problems in the recent past, it is a good idea to visit your doctor to make sure these problems are being caused by ocular migraines and not by strokes or problems with the eye itself. It’s also a good idea to log what foods were eaten recently and what activities were taking place when the ocular migraine occurred. This can help identify triggers and prevent ocular migraines from happening as frequently. This is the first step in being free from ocular migraines. Since there is currently no cure for ocular migraines, it is better to reduce their frequency than try to treat the symptoms each time they occur.

Ocular migraines can be scary, but knowing the symptoms and treatments will help reduce the impact they have on your daily life.