Understanding Vision Changes in Migraine: Exploring Ocular Migraine and Retinal Migraine

Understanding Vision Changes in Migraine: Exploring Ocular Migraine and Retinal Migraine

Introduction: Migraine is a complex neurological condition that can affect our vision in various ways.
Terms like "ocular migraine," "migraine aura," and "retinal migraine" are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different types of migraines with visual disturbances. In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between these migraines and shed light on their impact on vision.

Types of Migraines Affecting Vision:

Migraine with Aura: Migraine with Aura is a subtype characterized by visual impairments such as flashes of light, blind spots, zigzag lines, or seeing stars. It can also affect other senses and cause disruptions in speech or motor skills. Aura symptoms can occur with or without a headache and typically last for a short duration, usually between 20 to 60 minutes. While some people experience aura with every migraine episode, it may happen less frequently for others.

Retinal Migraine: Retinal Migraine is a specific type of migraine with visual symptoms that occur in one eye before or during the headache phase of a migraine attack. Unlike aura symptoms, retinal migraine is typically more intrusive and may include decreased vision, twinkling lights, or temporary blindness. It's crucial to distinguish between Migraine with Aura and Retinal Migraine, as the latter can lead to irreversible visual loss.

Causes of Vision Changes in Migraines: Migraine aura is believed to result from abnormal electrical activity in specific areas of the brain's cortex, spreading slowly and causing visual disturbances. In the case of retinal migraine, similar disturbances may occur in the retina at the back of the eye or a reduction in blood flow to the retina.

Triggers and Prevention: Just like other types of migraines, certain triggers can contribute to ocular migraines. Bright lights, electronic screens, fluorescent lighting, prolonged screen time, and visually demanding activities can increase the risk of attacks. Discussing preventive measures with an eye doctor can help minimize the occurrence of migraines.

Treatment Options: For infrequent attacks, medications targeting specific symptoms, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief or anti-nausea medications, can be effective. Preventative therapies like calcium channel blockers, antiepileptic drugs, newer cgrp monoclonal antibodies, or tricyclic medications may be recommended. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or reducing oral contraceptive use, might also be advised in certain cases. Non-pharmaceutical relief options include resting the eyes, avoiding bright sunlight or harsh lighting, and taking breaks from screen time.

Clarifying Terminology: While "ocular migraine" has been widely used, headache specialists now prefer the terms "migraine aura" and "retinal migraine." However, people may still use and be familiar with other terms like "visual migraine," "eye migraine," or "optical migraine," which essentially imply a migraine aura that affects vision.

Seek Medical Attention for Vision Changes: If you experience visual symptoms that haven't been previously evaluated by a healthcare provider, seek medical attention if you notice any of the following:

● Visual changes in only one eye
● Visual changes lasting less than five minutes or over 60 minutes
● Visual changes without a headache
● New or changing headaches or vision problems
● Onset of headaches or vision changes later in life (after the age of 50)
● New weakness on one side of the body or speech changes

Remember, consulting a healthcare professional is essential for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you better manage migraines that involve visual impairments.
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