While there are simple remedies to ease the headache, migraines are typically associated with head-pounding pain, so you may be surprised that they may also come without it or any nausea. This type of silent migraine is called an ophthalmic or ocular migraine and is characterised by vision disturbances that affect one or both eyes. These symptoms include zig-zags, light flashes, spots, double vision, and temporary vision loss.
These strange vision issues are commonly known as the aura or a phenomenon that often serves as a warning sign of impending head pain. However, this pounding headache never follows in the case of ocular migraines, with the vision problems generally going away on their own after 30 minutes.
What causes ocular migraines?
Ocular migraines are believed to originate similarly to regular migraine headaches through irregular electrical activity in the brain. Furthermore, genetics play a role in those who experience migraines, and they are also more common among women. Ocular migraines have several triggers, such as stress, harsh light, certain foods containing MSG, and changes in the weather.
Although the root cause is similar, it remains unknown why some people get severe headaches after experiencing migraine aura or visual disturbances while others do not. This also extends to why the same person can experience both ocular and regular migraines on different occasions. For women, it is common for them to have fewer headaches and less pain as they get older yet encounter more migraine auras.
For clarification, a migraine aura is a wave of activity that travels through the brain, and its location determines its type. The visual aura is the most common type of these auras, with approximately 90% of people with migraines experiencing it. It is speculated that this is because a large part of the brain is responsible for processing visual information.
When to be concerned
Although ocular migraines are largely harmless, it is important to note that they are also synonymous with the medical term retinal migraine. This rare condition occurs among those who have experienced other migraine symptoms, and it involves repeated episodes of short-lived blindness or diminished vision preceding or accompanying a headache.
Unlike a migraine aura, a retinal migraine only affects one eye and never both. However, the loss of vision in one eye is not caused by the migraine itself but rather by some other, more serious condition. Thus, if you temporarily lose vision in one eye, consult a virtual doctor in Singapore to arrange immediate treatment.
If you notice the following visual symptoms that your healthcare provider has not checked before, see them as soon as possible for a proper evaluation:
- Visual changes that last for more than an hour or less than five minutes.
- Visual changes in only one eye.
- Visual changes without an accompanying headache.
- New changes in vision or headaches.
- The onset of headaches or changes in vision after the age of 50 and beyond.
- Speech changes or a new feeling of weakness on one side of the body.
The symptoms above may suggest a more severe cause of your vision problems and warrant an immediate medical consultation. Any new changes in your vision should also be examined by your health provider.
Ocular migraine with only a visual aura is not usually considered serious and, at worst, will simply get in the way of certain activities like driving or reading. However, if the visual symptoms only affect one eye, it is best to assume that it may be a retinal migraine unless proven otherwise. Check with your healthcare provider immediately to confirm if that is the case and receive the necessary treatment.
If your migraines have been giving you a hard time recently, get an online medical consultation today via the MyCLNQ app and get to the bottom of what’s causing it. MyCLNQ connects you with certified, experienced medical professionals best suited to address your medical concerns. Besides doctor consultations, that app also provides other key services such as medicine e-commerce and delivery, private ambulance services, and virtual ART test in Singapore.