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Ocular Migraine

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What is an ocular migraine?

An ocular migraine is a temporary vision disturbance in both eyes. You may also have a headache during or after the disturbance. The cause of an ocular migraine is not known. An ocular migraine that happens in only 1 eye is called a retinal migraine.

What are the signs and symptoms of an ocular migraine?

Signs and symptoms can last from a few seconds to an hour. You may have any of the following:

  • Partial or complete blindness
  • Bright or flashing lights, or vision changes
  • Symptoms that worsen when you move
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Light or sound sensitivity
  • A headache that is usually on 1 side and that may throb

How is an ocular migraine diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your eyes. He or she will ask you to describe your symptoms. Tell him or her if you have a personal or family history of migraines.

How is an ocular migraine treated?

If your symptoms do not happen often, no treatment may be needed. Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed. You may be given medicine if you also have migraine headaches or if your symptoms happen often.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to manage ocular migraines?

  • Rest in a dark, quiet room. This will keep your symptoms from getting worse. Do not look at a computer screen. Sleep may help relieve any headache pain.
  • Apply ice if you have headache pain. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on your head. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed.
  • Apply heat if you have pain or muscle spasms. Use a small towel dampened with warm water or a heating pad, or sit in a warm bath. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours. You may alternate heat and ice.
  • Keep a symptom record. Write down when your ocular migraines start and stop. Include your symptoms and what you were doing when it began. Record what you ate or drank for 24 hours before the migraine started. Keep track of what you did to treat your migraine and if it worked. Bring the symptom record with you to visits with your healthcare provider.

What can I do to prevent ocular migraines?

  • Prevent a medicine overuse headache. If you have migraine headaches, medicines may be used to prevent or stop them. Take these medicines only as long as directed. A medicine may be limited to a certain amount each month. Your healthcare provider can help you create a plan so you get a safe amount each month.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can trigger a migraine or make it worse. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity, such as exercise, can help prevent a migraine or other symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days.
    Black Family Walking for Exercise
  • Manage stress. Stress may trigger a migraine or other symptoms. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
  • Create a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day. Do not watch television before bed.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Include healthy foods such as include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Do not have food or drinks that trigger your migraines.
    Healthy Foods
  • Prevent dehydration. Dehydration can trigger a migraine. You may need to drink more liquid during the day. Your healthcare provider can tell you how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your symptoms do not go away after 1 hour.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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