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TRIGGERED by numerous everyday activities, ocular migraines can seem alarming to those experiencing symptoms. Many will suffer with some vision loss and headaches. However, if this is then followed by deteriorating eyesight it is time to seek medical help.
Also known as a retinal migraine, an ocular migraine, often causes partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes and can be accompanied by headaches.
They are a completely separate condition to headache-type migraines or migraines with aura, which usually affects the vision of both eyes.
One expert, from Specsavers, explained more about the condition.
Clinical services director, Giles Edmonds, said: “In most examples of ocular migraines, both eyes are affected though often more one than another.
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“It’s common for vision to become blurred or dimmer, with some people experiencing flashes of white light or mosaic-like blank spots.
“This loss of vision usually lasts between 10 and 20 minutes before gradually returning. It’s common for these symptoms to be accompanied by, or followed by, headaches.”
The causes of ocular migraines are not fully understood but it is thought that they occur when the blood flow to the eye becomes restricted due to a sudden narrowing of the blood vessels.
Once the vessels relax, normal blood flow returns and symptoms clear.
The symptoms of ocular migraines can be triggered by a range of everyday activities including exercise, smoking, and even bending over.
Common causes include:
They are more likely to occur in people aged over 40, women, and those with a family history of migraines or headaches.
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Mr Edmonds assured that while ocular migraines can feel alarming to those experiencing the symptoms, they’re “usually” nothing to worry about.
If you experience an ocular migraine, Mr Edmonds advised “resting your eyes until your symptoms pass, and taking painkillers as recommended if you have an accompanying headache”.
He added: “Otherwise, the best thing you can do is to keep track of your attacks to help you avoid exposure to common triggers in the future.”
But he warned: “If your eyesight suddenly deteriorates it is important to see your optometrist or doctor for an emergency appointment – particularly if this is the first time it has happened.
“They will want to make sure other more serious cases of sight loss are ruled out.”
Opticians can diagnose ocular migraines by examining the eyes during an eye test, as well as discussing symptoms with the patient.
They should not be confused with headaches behind the eyes, which are not linked to blood vessels narrowing.
Instead these are usually a symptom of traditional headache-type migraines, which can be caused by a number of conditions such as sensitivity to bright light (also known as photophobia), some prescription medications or staring at digital screens for too long.
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