Sometimes headaches or migraines are accompanied by vision issues which can be very disruptive to a person’s day. These ocular migraines usually fade rapidly and are often not a cause for alarm, but there are some cases when a migraine accompanied by visual disruptions—known as a retinal migraine—signals a much more serious underlying condition.
So how do you know if your ocular migraines are harmless or serious? The board-certified ophthalmologists at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates have answered some FAQs to help you know the difference.
What are the symptoms of ocular migraines?
Ocular migraines that involve your vision can contain auras that are present in both eyes. Auras are disruptions in the vision that usually don’t last long and may or may not be accompanied by a headache. According to Mayo Clinic1, these symptoms can include:
- Flashes of light
- Zigzagging patterns
- Blind spots
- Shimmering spots
- Sparkling lights
- Blurred vision
- Fuzzy areas or swirled colors
- Sensation of looking through broken glass, water, heat waves, etc.
- Loss of color vision
- Depth perception issues
What are the symptoms of retinal migraines?
Retinal migraines are rarer than ocular migraines. They can affect one eye, rather than both, and are much more serious than ocular migraines. Retinal migraines can come before or accompany a headache and the symptoms can be recurring. The symptoms include2:
- Diminished vision
- Areas with decreased vision
- Temporary blindness
- Twinkling lights
- Tunnel vision
- New dark spots or floaters in one eye only
- New flashes of light in one eye only that persist over an hour
When should I see my ophthalmologist?
If you are experiencing any vision changes, such as ocular migraines or retinal migraines, you should see your ophthalmologist at Colorado Ophthalmology & Associates right away. We can track the changes you’re experiencing and help determine a course of action to try to head off future migraines.
If you have suddenly lost vision in one eye or have experienced decreased vision or changes in one eye, go to the nearest emergency room (ER) immediately. This could be a symptom of a much more serious condition, such as a stroke, diabetes or concussion.
What is the treatment for ocular migraines?
Patients suffering from recurring migraines are encouraged to keep a headache diary and try to pinpoint the triggers and then avoid them. Common triggers could be anything like disrupted sleep patterns, alcohol, caffeine, food additives, perfumes, dehydration, hormones or stress3.
Over-the-counter medications can help alleviate symptoms until they subside. Prescription medications are also available and some things like beta-blockers might be prescribed to be taken daily as a preventative measure.
Get help with your ocular migraines today!
If you’ve been suffering from migraines that affect your vision, come to one of our two Colorado locations for an initial exam so we can track your vision changes and evaluate your eye health. Our ophthalmologists are experienced in evaluating and treating ocular migraines and are ready to bring our expertise to help you start to feel better. Call us today to make an appointment: