Ocular Migraine: Migraine with visible disturbances


Migraines are one of the increasing health hazards and have found permanent place in modern lifestyles of individual. Even though a person considers it as non-serious or ‘general’ problem in nature similar to common cold and cough, but it is not the case. Migraines occur for a reason whether we know it or not. Classically migraines are defined as a common neurovascular headache disorder that occurs frequently after an interval. The reasons may be various and the associated pain may be mild to severe and excruciating. There are different types of migraine and one of them is Ocular Migraine.ocular migraine

Ocular means related to eye or vision, since it affects the vision. Other terms for this special type of migraine are Retinal migraine, Ophthalmic migraine, Eye migraine, Anterior visual pathway migraine.

Symptoms of ocular migraine

While it is associated with the term migraine the ocular or eye migraines may not always be  painful. This type of visual migraine can be painless but accompanied with visual disturbances. Common Symptoms of ocular or retinal migraine include

  • Scotoma or enlarging blind spot in the field of vision.
  • It is often occurred with flickering lights or shimmering zig-zag line inside the blind spot.
  • The enlarging blind spot usually crosses the field of vision.
  • The vision during this phase, differs in persistence from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.
  • Gives an impression that the affected person is looking through a cracked window.
  • Sometimes or in few cases blindness in one eye (monocular), that persists with the headache.
  • Nausea, phonophobia in some individual.ocular migraine

Causes Of Ocular Migraine

  • Flashing lights or certain chemicals or medications or even hormonal or mood changes. It results into intense headache that if untreated can last for hours. The same can also initiate ocular migraine.
  • Blood flow changes in the brain. Changes also may take place in blood flow to the area of the brain such as visual cortex or occipital lobe that are directly or indirectly linked with vision or perception of vision.
  • Exercise may also trigger the eye-migraine

Treatments for ocular migraine

Different medications are available but these are not specific for ocular migraine.

  • Propranolol
  • Amyl nitrate
  • Topiramate
  • Sodium salt of divalproex
  • Nifedipine
  • Amitriptyline and other cyclic triptlylinesocular migraine

Ocular migraine-Similarities with other disorders

  • Amaurosis  fugax– Temporary blindness due to very low or blockage of blood flow to the eye, due to  blockage in the main artery supplying blood to the eye. Symptoms closely resembles that of ocular migraines
  • Arteritis (in giant cell)– Due to inflammation in blood vessels.  Common symptom with ocular migraine.

Frequency of ocular migraine in population

Rare as out of 1000 individual the frequency is 5. The trend is increasing specially in last decade.


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