Getting the Facts about Ocular Migraines

More than 15% of the general population suffers from some type of migraine headaches. Women outnumber men in migraine occurrences by about three to one. Children are more likely to get migraine headaches if their parents are also prone to the condition. Of these statistics, there are a number of different types of migraines that people can experience. The most common type of migraine includes symptoms like pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. For some migraine sufferers, vision disturbances can also accompany the other symptoms, or even become the primary presentation during a migraine. Some of these are called ocular migraines, and can be experienced with or without the pain of a common migraine headache.

Causes of Ocular Migraines

An ocular migraine is a migraine that occurs with an “aura”, or some kind of vision disturbance. If the root of the migraine lies in the visual cortex of the brain, both eyes can be affected. If the migraine begins in the blood vessels of the eye, it is possible that only one eye will experience the vision disturbances, and by closing that eye you can “cure” the migraine. Physicians seem to have somewhat different ideas over exactly which type of condition is accurately described as an ocular migraine, but the majority will agree that an ocular migraine is generally preceded by a vision disturbance of some sort, and may or may not be followed by the intense headache pain that characterizes many other types of migraines.

Causes of ocular migraines are similar to those of other migraine types; triggers such as certain types of foods, bright lights or stress and fatigue are know to set off a migraine. The best means of treatment is often prevention, and includes avoiding known triggers as much as possible. If avoidance is not effective in treating an ocular migraine, there are medications that can be taken both as preventative care, and as a remedy once a migraine begins. Most of these medications can be prescribed by your doctor.

Types of Vision Disturbances

There are a variety of vision disturbances that can be described by someone who is experiencing an ocular migraine. One is a small blind spot that gradually enlarges throughout your central vision. These blind spots are called scotomas, and can include flickering lights or a zigzagging line inside of the blind spot. Sometimes these ocular migraines will resolve themselves within a few minutes, but they can also last longer – up to 20 or 30 minutes in some cases. They may or may not be followed by the acute pain of a classic migraine.

Since ocular migraines are usually harmless and often painless, treatment can be done at home. If you experience frequent ocular migraines that interfere with your daily life, your doctor can offer options in treatment and prevention to reduce your incidence of these migraines.

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