Ocular migraines – What are they and what are they triggered by?
What are ocular migraines?
Ocular migraines are strange. Despite its name, it may or may not be accompanied by pain. Ocular migraines are characterised by visual disturbances, such as blind spots, flashes of light, strange zigzagging patterns or even floating lines.
Although ocular migraines are pretty rare with temporary symptoms (they usually only last between 30 to 60 minutes), they can interfere with your ability to perform normal tasks, like reading, writing and even driving.
Triggers of ocular migraines
What exactly causes an ocular migraine is not known, but a family background of migraines is a risk factor. This is because there is a genetic link to migraines, meaning that you are more likely to suffer from migraines or ocular migraines if your parents or someone related to you also suffers from them. Ocular migraines may also be caused by a reduced blood flow or blood vessel spasms in the retina.
Although triggers vary from individual to individual, it is always helpful to know what are possible triggers. Here are some, as provided on Healthline:
stress and anxiety
bright lights and loud sounds
alcohol intake, especially red wine
lack of sleep
food containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), such as fast food, spices or broth
If you constantly experience headaches or ocular migraines, it may be helpful to keep track of anything that may possibly trigger the condition, so you know what to look out for and avoid in the future. Just bear in mind that it may be a few different triggers acting in combination to cause an ocular migraine, and not just a singular trigger.
Unfortunately, there is typically no treatment for ocular migraines, although if you feel that they are occurring often enough that they are a source of discomfort for you, you should seek the advice of your eye doctor.
If you are in the middle of a task that requires clear vision when you experience an ocular migraine, you should stop what you are doing, relax and resume the task when your vision is back to normal. Especially in the case of high-risk activities like driving, ensure that you wait until all symptoms have passed before resuming the activity.
While you are experiencing the ocular migraine, if possible, it may be helpful to lie down in a dark and quiet room, and put pressure on your temples or massage your scalp using liberal pressure.