What are ocular migraines?

by Dr. Robert Benza, MD 24. January 2014 11:50

Patients may report various types of transient visual problems. The history is very important to determine what is the cause. Many patients come to the office with a complaint of a visual disturbance. These typically are described as jagged lights, kaleidoscope effect, distorted vision or even wavy vision. They often are seen in both eyes even though the symptoms might appear on the right side or left side of their vision.  We encourage our patients to cover one eye at a time to determine if the symptoms are monocular (one eye) or binocular (both eyes).  Most patients with ocular migraines will tell you that the symptoms resolve in 5 to 30 minutes.
Ocular migraines are another form of vasospasm which often is the source of classic migraines. Patients with ocular migraines might not get the headache portion of this complex. There is another group of patients who get the visual symptoms followed by a headache. These are classic migraine patients and the visual symptoms are typically referred to as an "aura".
If you have new visual symptoms, always consult your eye care professional.  In addition, alerting your primary care physician is a good idea to rule out medical causes of your headache or eye problems. Ironically, caffeine sometimes may help ocular migraine patients as well as those with classic migraines. We typically don't have to treat our ocular migraine patients since the symptoms often resolve in a short period of time. Ocular migraines are fairly common but usually not vision threatening. However, consult your physicians with any new symptoms. 

Remember,  protect those eyes!

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