What is Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine?

Whenever we talk about Migraines we tend to imagine about pounding and disabling headaches but when we talk about optical migraine or ocular migraine, this is a condition in which the affected individual does not have any pain but has visual disturbances affecting one or both eyes. Optical migraine or ocular migraine may scare the wits out of a person but it is normally a benign condition and resolves without the need for any treatment in about half an hour. Optical migraine or ocular migraine is also known by the names of ophthalmic migraines. If optical migraine or ocular migraine is followed by a severe headache then that condition is called as Migraine with Aura and the Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine is termed as an aura preceding a headache. Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine can be followed by a headache or it may occur after a migraine headache.

What is Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine?

What are the Causes of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine?

Some of the potential causes of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine are:

Genetics: Genetics play a vital role in the development of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine. If there is a family history of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraines then there are higher chances for that individual to have this condition.

Hormones: Hormones also play a role in development of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine. The female hormone estrogen which is responsible for controlling chemicals in the brain that affect pain sensation is the hormone responsible for development of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine. This is the reason why females complain more of migraine headaches with aura as they are more prone to hormone irregularities due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause.

Triggers: Certain triggers also play a role in development of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine. The triggers may be different for different people. Some of the common triggers that can cause Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine are:

  • Bright lights
  • Loud sound or noise
  • Perfumes or deodorants
  • Stress
  • Weather changes
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Certain foods.

Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine Caused Due to Underlying Conditions: There are certain medical conditions which can also result in development of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine. These medical conditions are head injury, brain tumor, hemorrhagic stroke, aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation.

What are the Symptoms of Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine?

As stated above Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine results in visual disturbances. These visual disturbances may be in the form of a scintillating scotoma, or wavy lines surrounding the blind spot. This blind spot starts to get enlarged and moves across the field of vision.

How is Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine, the primary physician will first take a history from the patient as to when the symptoms started. The physician will also inquire as to whether the visual disturbances affect one or both eyes. The physician will then conduct a battery of tests to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. Some of these medical conditions are:

Amaurosis Fugax: This is a medical condition in which the patient suffers from temporary blindness as a result of lack of blood to the eye

Giant Cell Arteritis: This is a condition in which there is inflammation of the blood vessels in the eye resulting in visual disturbances or blindness.

How is Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine Treated?

The best way to treat Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine is to first identify what tends to cause them. In cases of females, if it is caused during their menstrual period then they need to contact their physician for a preventive medication for migraines. Some of the medications given for Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraines are:

  • Aspirin
  • Antiepileptic medications like Depakote or Topamax
  • Antidepressants like Elavil
  • Beta Blockers.

Apart from this, the affected individual needs to avoid triggers by identifying them so as to stay away from Optical Migraine or Ocular Migraine.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 5, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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