Ocular migraines can be worrying if you don’t know what they are and suddenly experience one for the first time.
If you’ve ever noticed a patch of bright, shimmering light that gradually widens until it fills your entire field of vision, you might have had an ocular migraine. When we hear the word “migraine,” we tend to think about extreme headaches, but this particular type of migraine doesn’t always have to do with pain.
Different Types of Visual Migraines
While ocular migraines on their own are usually temporary and not serious, they do come in three different types:
Painless Ocular Migraine
Sometimes ocular migraines happen without headaches. They aren’t the same for everyone and can vary from person to person. Some people may see psychedelic images, others see flashing or shimmering lights, and others see stars or zigzagging lines. The effect begins small but soon spreads and obscures the field of vision in both eyes, then clears on its own.
The visual effects may be the only symptoms, but sometimes motor function or speech is also temporarily affected. While these types of ocular migraines are not considered serious, they do briefly interfere with ordinary activities, such as driving, reading, or writing. If one comes on while you’re on the road, pull off to the side until it passes. They typically last between thirty minutes and an hour.
Migraine with Aura
A fifth of people who suffer migraine headaches also experience ocular migraines, sometimes as a warning symptom that the headache is on its way. If you’ve experienced visual distortions before headaches, make sure to discuss it with your doctor. It is sometimes possible to reduce the frequency of migraines by avoiding triggers like eating certain foods, exposure to sudden bright light, and stress. Other triggers can include smoking and certain medications.
The third and potentially more dangerous form of ocular migraine is a retinal migraine. While ocular migraines affect both eyes, retinal migraines will only affect one, though they may also precede a migraine headache just like in the case of a migraine with aura.
This is the rarest type of ocular migraine. It happens when the blood vessels in the retina constrict, reducing the blood flow to the eye. Long-term damage to the eye is rare, and a retinal migraine may only happen once every few months, but it’s safer to consult with the eye doctor to make sure it isn’t connected to another condition.
Experiencing Ocular Migraines? Let Us Know!
Any time you experience something strange or worrying with your vision, it’s crucial to schedule an eye appointment, even if it seems like it might be temporary and harmless. If you or someone you know is experiencing ocular migraines, request an appointment here or give us a call! Timely care for these situations is of the essence.