migraines-and-vision- issues

When thinking about migraines, most people associate them with powerful headaches which are often paired with nausea. However, there’s another rarer type of migraine – the ocular migraine. In these cases, the symptoms include, or even begin with, visual disruptions.

If you ever suffer an ocular migraine, it can be a disturbing experience, especially if you don’t know what’s happening. So, let’s talk about migraines and vision issues.

What Are Ocular Migraines?

For some people – estimated to be less than 1/3 of migraine-sufferers – the symptoms include visual disruption. The most common of these is the scotoma, basically a zig-zagging aura or rainbow-colored blind spot that starts near the center of vision and starts expanding outward. Sometimes it may also seem to shimmer or dance, which is called a scintillating scotoma.

The patient may also ‘see stars’ or suffer from tunnel vision.

Depending on the severity of the attack, this might be limited to a few blurry spots in a person’s vision. Or, in worse cases, it could almost entirely blind a person for a short time – usually less than half an hour.

The visual problems might only be in one eye, or in both eyes. Also, while ocular migraines are typically accompanied by a headache, they may sometimes occur without pain.

What Causes Ocular Migraines?

Unfortunately, science currently does not understand the link between migraines and vision problems. Suggested causes include a disruption of the electrical impulses going between the eyes and the brain, or sudden contraction in the blood vessels controlling the eyes and retina.

Otherwise, like regular migraines, the causes and triggers can vary from person to person. Certain foods or other substances might trigger ocular migraines in some people, but not in others. Looking at unusual patterns or disorientating visuals may also trigger an ocular migraine in some people. There is very little consistency in migraine triggers.

Do You Need To Call An Eye Doctor About Ocular Migraines And Vision Problems?

In most cases, no. The visual problems will usually resolve themselves within half an hour, so you wouldn’t even have time to get to the doctor.

However, in very rare situations, the visual disruption may persist longer than an hour. In that specific case, you should immediately consult with an eye-care professional, even if it means emergency after-hours care. Your eyesight might be in danger.

Valley Eyecare Center are your Arizona eye specialists! If you suffer from ocular migraines, please contact us for more advice or support.