According to the American Migraine Foundation, about 25-30% of migraine suffers experience visual aura symptoms. Here is what you should know about possible migraine-related vision disturbances.

Disturbances Should Only Be Temporary

Visual disturbances are common with migraines. These disturbances typically last between 10-30 minutes but could last only seconds. It may be possible that you could experience a visual disturbance without having a headache. The symptoms will usually start before a migraine begins, but they can start during one, too. It is important to note that these disturbances can change throughout your lifetime and may start at age 50 or later.

Disturbances in Both or Just One Eye

Migraine-related visual symptoms typically occur in both eyes. However, with an ocular migraine, which differs from a typical migraine, the disturbances may occur in only one eye. The cause of ocular migraines is not completely known, but experts think they might be linked to spasms in the retina’s blood vessels or changes in the retina’s nerve cells.

Symptoms of Migraine-Related Visual Disturbances

Visual disturbance symptoms are put into three general categories:

  1. Positive symptoms include seeing things that are not actually there like shimmering zig-zag lines, dots, stars, squiggles, sparkles, spots moving across the field of vision.
  2. Negative symptoms involve those that cause part of your vision to disappear, including blind spots, complete loss of vision, tunnel vision or loss of peripheral vision.
  3. Altered/distorted vision symptoms include the sensations of looking through water, heat waves, fractured vision, blurred vision, loss of color vision, or objects seeming larger, smaller, closer or further than they are actually are.

When to Be Concerned about Visual Disturbances

With so many possible symptoms, it can be difficult to determine if such symptoms are related to migraines or a more serious problem like a retinal detachment. You should seek immediate medical attention for symptoms such as:

  • New floaters or dark spots in one eye
  • New flashes of light in one eye that don’t go away in an hour
  • Transient loss of vision in one eye
  • Tunnel vision or complete blindness without headache
  • Dramatic changes in previous pattern of migraine visual symptoms

Make sure to speak to your eye doctor about any visual disturbances you may experience with or without a migraine. It is also essential to not forget to keep up with your regular eye exams. Schedule your next exam with Valley Eyecare Center by calling (602) 955-2700.