Migraines and Vision

Migraines and Vision

Over 15% of Americans suffer from migraines. Here’s how they affect the vision.

Nearly 38 million people in the country suffer from migraines—headaches that cause severe throbbing pain, and are usually accompanied by nausea, light and noise sensitivity. They can also affect the eyes. Keep reading to learn the different ways migraines can impact vision, both with or without pain.

Migraine symptoms can vary from person to person. For some, a warning sign that one is about to occur is an “aura;” flashes of light or blind spots in front of the eye. This may or may not be the only visual migraine symptom that occurs, and sometimes it goes away before the pain starts. Some people experience “retinal migraines” that happen only in one eye and involve short periods of vision loss.

These conditions are known as “ocular migraines,” a term which is used interchangeably to refer to both regular and retinal migraines. Migraine auras are relatively common and usually aren’t that serious (though they can signal some major discomfort). They can interfere with daily activities, though, so it’s probably not a good idea to try and drive a car if you feel one coming on.

Retinal migraines are much less common than a migraine aura. They usually only affect one eye and involve short bouts of vision loss, either before or with a headache. Retinal migraines are generally more serious than those that simply have auras, so if you experience vision loss in one eye before or with your migraine, you’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out and treated.

Both of these conditions are caused by reduced blood flow and/or spasms in blood vessels behind the eyes. They are more common in women than men, and are more common in adults between the ages of 30 and 39. Migraines are usually diagnosed and treated by both ophthalmologists and primary care physicians, though sometimes neurological screening may be necessary depending on your symptoms.

The symptoms for ocular migraines are treated generally the same way as other migraines: avoiding the triggers that bring them on (flashing lights, alcohol consumptions, etc.). Keeping a headache journal can help you understand these triggers so you can learn your triggers and how to avoid them. If you’d like to be screened for an ocular migraine, or discuss them with our doctors, schedule an appointment with Sterling Vision by calling 866-439-3588 or schedule online.