Ocular Migraine: The Blinding Headache

squinting-eyes-19695_640-300x198According to the American Optometric Association, an ocular migraine is a severe headache that involves visual symptoms. Some people may describe this condition as a “headache behind the eye,” a “retinal migraine” or “ophthalmic migraine.”

Ocular Migraine Symptoms

Ocular migraines typically cause both pain in the head and visual symptoms. Some of the characteristics of an attack include:

  • Pulsating pain on one side of the head.
  • Pain that worsens with activity.
  • Blind spots in your field of vision.
  • Complete blindness.
  • Flashing lights.

For people with true ocular migraines, these symptoms will occur in one eye only. However, some people may also use the term “ocular migraine” to refer to any migraine that is accompanied by visual symptoms. While ocular migraines accompanied by visual symptoms in both eyes are relatively common among migraine sufferers, true ocular migraines are rare.

Causes of Ocular Migraine

Experts have not yet discovered a definitive cause of ocular migraines. However, this condition is thought to occur because of changes in the retina’s nerve cells or because of spasms within the retina.

What Should I Do if I Think I am Having Ocular Migraines?

Ocular migraines with visual symptoms in only one eye are rare. In many cases, vision loss in only one eye is the result of a condition other than migraine. For this reason, it is important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing this symptom in order to rule out more serious causes. In addition, because ocular migraines may cause permanent vision loss in one eye, seeking medical attention is the best course of action even if your symptoms are migraine-related.

If you are having migraines accompanied by visual symptoms in both of your eyes, your condition is less likely to be serious. However, you should still talk to your doctor about possible causes and treatments. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment with our eye doctors, contact our offices in Santa Rosa at 707-546-9800 and in Petaluma at 707-763-6400. We would be happy to schedule an appointment for you or answer any questions you have.

Further Reading

Posted in: Eye care, Eye Care Institute

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