In 50% of cases, ocular migraines cause temporary and dramatic visual disturbance. In the other half of cases, ocular migraines can cause lesser vision disturbances such as:
Partial vision loss
Scotomas, or a blank spots in your vision
Flashes of light
Ocular migraines are usually brief, lasting less than five minutes. However, they can last up to 30 minutes. Forty-one percent of people have a headache during the vision loss. Twenty-five percent have it before...
Diagnosing ocular migraine requires a health care professional to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Being able to describe the symptoms properly is important for helping your doctor determine whether you actually have an ocular migraine.
Ocular Migraine Symptoms
According to the International Headache Society's definition of this condition -- which it calls retinal migraine -- symptoms include:
Vision problems that affect one eye. These problems include:
An important symptom is that the vision loss only affects one eye. Many people have trouble identifying the difference between flashing lights or blindness in one side of their vision -- but involving both eyes -- and these symptoms in only one eye.
A regular migraine with an aura, which can involve flashing lights and blind spots in the vision, is a more common problem. This type affects about 20% of people who have migraines. But in these cases, these symptoms usually appear in one side of your field of vision and in both eyes.
Covering one eye and then the other can help you tell if your problem is affecting one eye or both.
Ocular Migraine Causes
Experts aren't sure what causes ocular migraines. Some feel that the problem is related to:
Spasms in blood vessels in the retina, the delicate lining in the back of the eye
Changes that spread across the nerve cells in the retina
People who have these migraines may have a higher risk of developing permanent vision loss in one eye. Experts don't know if preventive treatments for migraines -- such as tricyclic antidepressants or anti-seizuremedications -- can help prevent permanent vision loss. However, it's wise to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.