Many people struggle with migraines throughout their lives. These are painful headaches with associated symptoms of fatigue and malaise throughout the body, and they often have visual symptoms as well. Read on to learn about migraines and how they affect the eyes.
What is a Migraine?
A migraine is a more severe type of headache that can last from hours to several days. Having migraines is hereditary and these headaches recur. Symptoms include pain, nausea, and increased sensual sensitivity. Some people will experience aura with a migraine, which is a sensory distortion – often a visual one of flashing lights – before their headache, but the aura may come without pain and vice versa.
Migraines typically are tied to certain triggers that you may be aware of if you get them, like stress, sleep deficit, consumption of or withdrawal from substances like caffeine and alcohol, etc. Migraines are quite common and affect more women than men. People begin getting migraines in their teens or early twenties and their frequency increases into the thirties and forties. After that, the frequency decreases into middle age until the sixties or seventies where getting a migraine becomes quite uncommon. The underlying cause of migraines is currently under study.
Visual vs. Ocular Migraines
There are two types of eye-related migraine manifestations, which can be confusing because they sound like similar entities. Ocular migraines involve partial or complete vision loss in only one eye for about an hour. Visual migraines involve flashes of light or other stimuli like static or flickering and usually go away more quickly. Visual migraines are more common than ocular ones, less severe in their symptoms, and take place in both eyes. Again, both of these can occur on their own or associated with normal migraine pain.
What to Do When a Migraine Occurs
Often, people will know what their migraine triggers are and avoid them. During a migraine, you may need to simply wait out the symptoms and get lots of rest until it passes. Your family doctor or neurologist may prescribe medication if they deem it necessary for migraine control. For the eyes, there is current research looking into glasses tints to help reduce frequency of migraines.
If your migraine has visual symptoms, these may mimic those symptoms of a retinal detachment or tear, which requires urgent examination with an eye doctor and surgery. If it is an eye disease, it will not go away within an hour like migraine symptoms will. If you do not normally get visual symptoms with your migraines and suddenly start, this may also be a reason to get checked with one of our eye doctors to rule out more serious eye conditions. In addition, suddenly getting severe headaches when you are middle-aged, without a history of migraine, is not normal, and you should again be examined by your family doctor or neurologist if this occurs.
Our eye doctor at Innovative Vision Care in Belton, Missouri excels in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases. Call our optometrist at 816.331.9590 or request an appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for symptoms pertaining to visual and ocular migraines. Our eye doctor, Dr. Aaron Law, provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Belton, MO.