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Breaking Down Ocular Migraines

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Migraines are a common neurological disorder. Sometimes, in addition to the pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light, you can also experience loss of vision. This is called an ocular migraine.


Ocular migraines vary in type based on the length of time vision loss lasts and whether it occurs in one eye or both. Some vision migraines cause a variety of sensations, like flashes of light or blind spots. While most ocular migraines don’t cause any pain, they can be hinting at a larger problem so it’s important to understand the key variables in their symptoms.

1. Retinal Migraines

Retinal migraines typically occur in one eye when a blood vessel in the eye spasms, resulting in a lack of blood flow. They usually begin with a small blindspot which will gradually grow and make it difficult to complete mundane, routine tasks, like reading or driving a car. Generally, retinal migraine episodes last less than an hour. However, they can serve as a warning signal for possible head pain with which migraines are typically associated.

2. Migraine Aura

This type of ocular migraine essentially means you experience a variety of visual sensations, including flashes of light, blind spots, shimmering stars, or zigzag patterns. This condition isn’t serious, but it can cause difficulty in completing certain daily activities.

3. Other ocular migraines

Like retinal migraines, ocular migraines cause a temporary lack of vision–however, in this case, the loss is in both eyes. While retinal migraines affect the central vision in one eye, ocular migraine symptoms create a flickering blind spot near the center of your field of view. They will usually last 30 minutes or less, and a headache may occur after. While temporary vision loss caused by ocular migraines, like migraine auras, is relatively minor, temporary vision loss in one eye is rarer and could be a symptom of something more serious. If you find that your symptoms match those of a retinal migraine, please contact EYE-Q to schedule an appointment with one of our ophthalmologists. In the meantime, make sure to rest as the migraine passes.