Ocular Migraine

Man in pain holding hand to foreheadAn ocular migraine is a type of migraine headache that affects vision. It is sometimes referred to as an opthalmic migraine.

What is an Ocular Migraine?
There are two types of migraines that may be classified as ocular migraines:

  1. Migraine headaches with auras are variations on migraines and do not usually indicate a serious medical condition, although they can be quite painful. Symptoms of this kind of migraine include  headache, nausea, or other migraine symptoms, along with blind spots, flashes of light, blurriness around the edges of objects, color disturbances, or zigzag patterns.
  2. A retinal migraine, by contrast, is a migraine along with visual disturbances in one eye. The eye in which the disturbances occur may change, but blurriness, blindness, and other visual issues typically only occur on one side at a time. These headaches can be caused by serious medical conditions, so if you experience blindness and other visual disturbances on one side of your body, consult your doctor.

What Causes Ocular Migraines?
Migraine headaches tend to run in families, and ocular migraines may be due to a genetic predisposition. Some people find that certain foods or noises make their migraines worse. Stress, muscular tension, fatigue, or illness may also trigger migraines in some people. Some doctors believe that migraines occur when the brain releases inflammatory substances near nerves and blood vessels in the brain. Migraines are more common in women than in men.

How Are Ocular Migraines Treated?
Retinal ocular migraines may require medication or surgery, depending on their cause. Sometimes a detached retina can cause an ocular migraine. Normal ocular migraines go away in an hour or less—so if symptoms continue, talk to a doctor. There are several medications available to treat symptoms of migraines, but there is no cure. Some people find that lifestyle and nutritional changes reduce the frequency with which they get migraines.


  1. Haddrill, M. (n.d.). Ocular migraines. All About Vision. Retrieved from http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/ocular-migraine.htm
  2. Swanson, J. W. (2011, September 15). What is an ocular migraine? Is it a sign of something serious? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ocular-migraine/AN01681

Last Updated: 08-12-2015

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