One of the most common patient complaints during my day is migraine headaches. Migraines can also cause visual symptoms, which are commonly called Ocular Migraines. They can be quite bothersome and sometimes debilitating to patients’ day-to-day activities.
Today, I am going to talk about Ocular Migraines, also known as eye pressure headaches, vision headaches, and visual migraines. So, if you’ve ever suffered from Ocular Migraines and want to know more about it, keep reading so you can possibly find answers to your questions.
What are Ocular Migraines?
Ocular Migraines is the common term for a family of several migraine types that manifest visual disturbances on a random basis.
These visual disturbances can accompany classic migraines symptoms like head, eye, and muscle pain, as well as nausea and vomiting. But they can also occur only as visual disturbances.
Visual symptoms include flashes of light, light sensitivity, blind spots, and narrowing of your field of vision. All these symptoms are randomly and individually experienced by those suffering from Ocular Migraines.
What Causes Ocular Migraines?
No one really knows what causes an Ocular Migraine. It could be an unknown narrowing of blood vessels, restricting blood flow to the eye, causing pain and visual disturbances. But no one has a definitive answer to what causes it.
Ocular migraines have a genetic link since it is well known that whole families can suffer from Ocular Migraines. But the exact gene or genetic makeup has not been determined yet.
Hormone levels are thought to play a hand in causing an Ocular Migraine, but no one has definitively proved it yet. Specifically, researchers have looked to estrogen as a possible factor since it has been linked to pain centers in the brain. But the research is still ongoing.
Because we do not know where Ocular Migraines originate, it is difficult to create regimens to treat or even mitigate Ocular Migraine symptoms.
What are Some of the Triggers to Ocular Migraines?
For those suffering from Ocular Migraines on a long-term basis, it is well known that there are triggers that initiate an attack of Ocular Migraines.
Some common triggers include:
- Bright Lights – Lights such as flashlights, oncoming headlights, and flash from a camera may overload the light receptors in the back of the eye (retina) and trigger an Ocular Migraine.
- Loud Sounds – Police and fire sirens, fireworks, and even a car’s exhaust may overload your auditory system and cause Ocular Migraines
- Stress – If the stress is especially acute and a sharp increase from your normal level, stress can cause Ocular Migraines
- Foods – Foods that contain nitrates, monosodium glutamate, and tyramine may cause Ocular Migraines in individuals that are susceptible to them.
- Drinks – Drinks such as alcohol and caffeine, since they may alter the constriction and dilation of blood vessels, may cause Ocular Migraines.
It is worthy to note that all the triggers mentioned above are individual and may affect some and not others. Every Ocular Migraine sufferer has their own individual set of triggers that cause their Ocular Migraines.
How long do Ocular Migraines last?
Ocular Migraine episodes don’t usually last very long. For most sufferers, episodes last only a few minutes to an hour and are usually harmless. However, visual disturbances such as flashes, narrowing of vision, and aura may last a bit longer and may occur before or after the headache.
How Do You Know It’s an Ocular Migraine?
To put it simply, you don’t know if it’s just an Ocular Migraine or something else, especially when you’re experiencing symptoms for the first time.
The most prudent thing to do is make an immediate appointment with your closest and most available healthcare professional, whether a medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or eye care professional. They’ll help determine if it’s just an Ocular Migraine or something more serious that requires an immediate trip to the Emergency Room.
How Do You Cope With an Ocular Migraine?
There are a few ways to cope with an Ocular Migraine, especially during an episode. The immediate way is to go into a dark room, lie down, and try to relax.
You can also vigorously massage your temples with your fingers using a circular movement to try to ease the tension you’re experiencing. Massaging your scalp and forehead (by squeezing them with your fingers trying to put a lot of pressure on them) might also help. Other suggestions include acupressure, massages, and avoiding your individual triggers.
How Do You Get Rid of an Ocular Migraine?
As I mentioned above, you should visit your closest healthcare professional to get treatment, especially if it’s your first time experiencing an Ocular Migraine.
Treatments include recommending an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or something specific for treating a Migraine like Excedrin Migraine or Advil Migraine. Vitamin supplements, such as B vitamins, folic acid, and herbal supplements, can also help on a case-per-case basis.
Some prescription medication that your healthcare professional can give you include: Antidepressants, Anti-epileptics, and Beta-Blockers.
So, there are quite a few options you can utilize to help get rid of Ocular Migraines and migraines in general.
However, it may take some time because you may have to try different over-the-counter medications, supplements, and prescribed medications to see which works the best for you.
Ocular Migraines can potentially be very disruptive to your life. It can prevent you from driving, working your job, or doing normal tasks and day-to-day activities. However, before you try some of the suggestions mentioned above, the first thing to do is see your doctor to get a definitive diagnosis. That way, you can have peace of mind that it’s just an Ocular Migraine and not something more serious.