We typically think of migraines as the painful headaches that affect about 10 percent of the U.S. population, but the visual distortions that come with ocular migraines aren’t always related to head pain. There are three main categories of ocular migraine.
About 20 percent of people who suffer migraine headaches will experience visual distortions in both eyes as one of the warning symptoms of an upcoming migraine. If this sounds familiar and you haven’t discussed it with a doctor, schedule an appointment.
You may be able to reduce the frequency of your migraines by avoiding triggers such as stress, certain foods, and sudden bright lights. Smoking and oral contraceptives may act as triggers as well.
The most dangerous form of ocular migraine is a retinal migraine. Like an aura accompanying a migraine, a retinal migraine will usually occur before a bad headache sets in, but the difference is that the visual distortions are only in a single eye.
Retinal migraines are the rarest form of ocular migraine, but if you’ve experienced them, you should definitely see a doctor, because they are usually caused by a more serious condition.
In some cases, ocular migraines can occur without any accompanying headache. These typically involve a widening blurry patch in your vision that is surrounded by bright, flickering lights. This will gradually spread to cover the entire field of vision, taking between a few minutes and half an hour, before going away on its own.
The visual disruption may be the only symptom, but sometimes it’s accompanied by other sensory, speech, or motor problems. A painless ocular migraine might be scary the first time it happens. If one starts coming on while you’re driving, pull over until it passes, and it may be best to lie down and relax. While these ocular migraines are usually harmless, it’s a good idea to schedule an eye exam, just in case.
If you’ve experienced any of the three types of ocular migraine, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us so that we can discover the underlying cause and make a plan to address it if necessary. If you’d like to learn more about ocular migraines, just give us a call!