Ocular migraine—known also as ophthalmic migraine, eye migraine and retinal migraine—refers to episodes of visual symptoms attributed to a migraine attack. These symptoms include flashing or bright lights, floating geometric shapes or loss of peripheral vision. Ocular migraine symptoms can go away completely within a few minutes, but last up to 72 hours in extreme cases.
Medically speaking, eye migraine refers to a migraine attack that causes the sudden onset of impaired functioning of the third, fourth and/or sixth cranial nerve(s)—the nerves responsible for eye movement, pupil size and eyelid control.
Retinal migraines can cause double vision, enlarged pupils and droopy eyelids. An ocular migraine headache, to some degree, is associated with retinal migraine episodes.
While experiencing an ocular migraine, changes can take place in blood flow to the area of the brain responsible for the visual cortex and occipital lobe, often resulting in visual symptoms, but no ocular migraine headache. In fact, ophthalmic migraines are more often than not, painless.
Hormonal changes, flashing lights and reactions to chemicals in foods, medications and substances foreign to the body can result in an ocular migraine.
Eye Migraine Symptoms (Retinal migraines)
Retinal migraines come with a veritable Pandora’s Box of symptoms. Typically, an ocular migraine begins as a small, enlarging blind spot across your central field of sight accompanied by scintillations of light or a zig-zag shape in your blind spot. The blind spot eventually enlarges sometimes to encompass your entire field of sight, for a few minutes. Symptoms then subside with the whole process lasting approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
Ophthalmic migraines have been found to be relatively harmless, causing no visual or brain damage and not requiring treatment. Regardless, it’s best to consult your eye care practitioner for advice and treatment of ocular migraines and retinal migraine symptoms.
Eye migraine remedies
There is not much more to do when experiencing an ocular migraine than to ride it out. For some, ocular migraine symptoms and headaches pass quickly, while in more extreme cases, symptoms last for days. You should be advised to see a physician or licensed eye care practitioner should an eye migraine last more than a day or occur frequently, as some type of clinical relief may be available.*
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