Have you ever experienced a horrible headache that caused you to lose your vision temporarily? If this is the case, you may have experienced an ocular migraine. Migraines are no fun and can be scary when you lose your vision. In most cases, these migraines can impair your ability to function.

What is it?

Many people who suffer from occasional migraines are most likely familiar with ocular migraines. These are intense migraines that cause temporary auras that prevent people from seeing properly or completing daily activities. Seeing flashes of bright light, random patterns, spots, or stars are all examples of auras that can result from an ocular migraine. These symptoms affect both eyes but they are typically mild and they usually dissipate after a few hours.

In some serious cases, an ocular migraine can be a sign of a serious condition known as retinal migraines. This is an extremely rare condition that can cause a person to have temporary vision loss. Although some people use visual auras and retinal migraines interchangeably, they refer to different conditions. An easy way to identify which one you are suffering from is to observe where you are experiencing the migraine. If both eyes are affected, that most likely signifies a visual aura. When only one eye is experiencing symptoms, this is an indication of retinal migraine. In this case, you should see a doctor immediately as it could mean there is a more serious condition causing vision loss.

Ocular migraines are commonly caused by:

  • Spasms in blood vessels in the retina– the lining in the back of the eye
  • Changes that spread across the nerve cells in the retina

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Affect one side of your head
  • Feel moderate pain to immense pain
  • Throbbing or pulsating of the eyes and head
  • Worsening pain and discomfort when accompanied with movement

Other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Being sensitive to light or sound

How to treat it:

If your symptoms are mild and are most similar to visual auras, they should go away fairly quickly and typically do not require any medicine to treat. A good course of treatment is to take an over-the-counter migraine medicine and rest your eyes until symptoms subside. Retinal migraines are more serious and often require prescription medications to treat. Some drugs that treat epilepsy or high blood pressure have been proven to alleviate symptoms.

How to prevent it:

There are many factors that can trigger an ocular migraine. You can take preventative measures but it is always a good idea to consult with your eye doctor to keep your migraines from worsening. Some preventative measures include:

Have a Balanced Diet

You should never skip a meal, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms of ocular migraines. Avoid alcohol and caffeine consumption and be sure to drink lots of water. Having a balanced meal schedule can prevent ocular migraines and maintain your overall health.

Manage your Stress

Stress plays a role in most adults' lives. Eliminating stress can be difficult but it can be mitigated. Stress can enhance and even cause ocular migraines. Taking time to control your breathing, write down your thoughts, and seek other ways to mitigate your stress can help alleviate and even prevent these migraines.

Get Good Sleep

Lack of sleep causes many health problems including ocular migraines. Just like drinking water, we need good sleep to function properly. Prioritize good sleep to help prevent ocular migraines.

Avoid Bright Lights

Bright lights and the constant use of digital devices can cause and worsen ocular migraines. In a digital age, the use of technology is constant and inevitable. To protect your vision and prevent ocular migraines, take breaks between usage and stare at objects in the distance to give your vision a break. When outdoors, be sure to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harsh lights.

Stay Away from Strong Odors

Strong odors can worsen or cause ocular migraines. Avoid candle shops and strong perfumes if you are experiencing ocular migraine symptoms or have a history of migraines. These scents can flare up the migraine or increase the likelihood of experiencing one.

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