Have you ever seen a spot of shimmering light that expanded until it filled your field of vision?
If so, then you may have had an ocular migraine. They are usually nothing to worry about but can be quite alarming to someone who has never had one before. The word “migraine” can be a bit misleading here, as ocular migraines are not always associated with painful headaches.
Visual migraines come in different types
Ocular migraines themselves are often not a problem, but depending on the type, they can be associated with something worse.
Migraine with aura
One in five people who suffer from migraine headaches may get ocular migraines as a warning sign that a migraine is coming. Be sure to discuss any visual distortions you experience with your doctor prior to the headache. Some people can reduce the frequency of their migraines by avoiding triggers such as stress, exposure to bright light, and eating certain foods. Oral contraceptives and smoking can also be triggers.
Painless eye migraine
Some people experience this strange visual phenomenon first-hand, and it can look different for different people. Some may see flashing or twinkling lights, others see psychedelic images, and still, others see squiggly lines or stars. Regardless of what it looks like, it usually starts as a small distortion that soon expands until it covers everything before clearing up on its own. It should work equally on both eyes.
While painless ocular migraines are not associated with headaches, they can have other symptoms, such as a temporary impact on speech and motor function. They may not indicate a serious health problem, but they may interfere with normal activities such as driving, reading, or writing. If you notice strange visual distortions while you’re on the road, stop and wait for them to go away. It usually won’t take more than an hour.
The third and rarest type of ocular migraine is potentially more dangerous. Unlike the harmless variety, retinal migraines only affect one eye (although they can still be preceded by migraine headaches). Retinal migraines are the result of reduced blood flow to the eye due to narrowing of the blood vessels in the retina.
Retinal migraines may only occur once every few months, and long-term damage is rare, but make sure your eye doctor knows if you experience them. It is important to find out if it is linked to a more serious condition.
Let us know if you see stars!
As your vision health partners, we at Anand Eye Centre – Aligarh want to know about any changes you experience with your vision, be they temporary or permanent. If you think you may be suffering from a form of ocular migraine, make an appointment to let us know. You can also call us for appointments.
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