OPHTHALMIC SURGEON
Specialist in Glaucoma, Cataract, Pediatrics

Ocular Migraines

Affecting an average of 1 in 5 adults in France, ocular migraines have a strong functional and emotional impact on the patient, even to the point of having a strong impact on their quality of life. COP9 answers all the questions you may have about this ocular pathology: definition, symptoms, diagnosis and how to treat these migraines.

Ocular Migraines
Ophthalmic migraine affects 1 in 5 adults in France

What are ocular migraines?

This pathology results in violent headache attacks, also called cephalalgia.

We can distinguish 2 types of attacks for ocular migraines:

  • Migraines without aura represent the majority of attacks.
  • Migraine with aura: it is accompanied by visual symptoms. This category includes visual, sensory or phasic disorders before cephalalgia.

The visual aura is a phenomenon resulting from neurological and not ocular diseases.

Some patients with a prevalence of ocular migraines may have genetic factors that explain the condition. Several members of the same family may suffer from it. However, no hereditary gene has been identified to date.

What triggers ocular migraines?

Patients who suffer from migraines on a regular basis would be more prone to attacks.

The factors that trigger severe migraines can be:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Certain foods (cheese, cured meats, fermented products, etc.)
  • Sudden changes in light intensity
  • Tiredness or lack of sleep
  • Emotional changes
  • Hormonal changes or taking the pill

These painful attacks have a strong repercussion on the daily life of people who could find relief thanks to a diagnosis with a health professional, like an ophthalmologist, or a general practitioner.

How to diagnose an ocular migraine?

Being aware and knowing how to recognize the warning signs is the first step towards an effective diagnosis. But what are the symptoms of an ocular migraine? 

  • Visual symptoms: bright spots, scotoma, loss of vision
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • A headache on one side of the skull with severe pain.
  • Tension at the temples
  • Sometimes tingling and speech problems
  • Intolerance to light (photophobia) and noise

Migraine patients describe their headache as lasting from 4 hours to 3 consecutive days. It is possible to suffer from headaches with a repeated and close frequency of attacks. The pain is then defined as a chronic headache

If you or someone you know suffers from severe ocular migraines, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist. You will undergo a clinical examination and obtain an appropriate prescription.

What is the treatment for ocular migraines?

Le diagnostic repose principalement sur les symptômes neurologiques et ophtalmologiques décrits par le patient souffrant de la migraine ophtalmique.

The diagnosis is based primarily on the neurological and ophthalmological symptoms described by the patient with an ocular migraine.

Des examens cliniques sont réalisés en ophtalmologie, et neurologie s’il y en a besoin. Votre vision est examinée avec attention par votre ophtalmologiste.

Clinical examinations are carried out in ophthalmology, and neurology if necessary. Your vision is carefully examined by your ophthalmologist.

You must be wondering what are the solutions for treating an ocular migraine?

COP9 invites you to determine the factors that may be triggering the painful episodes. Defining the cause of the migraine attacks can help you to ease them. You can also inform your ophthalmologist in order to help them guide you in your treatment.

As soon as the attack begins, it is advisable to relax in a room, in semi-darkness or if possible in total darkness. Relaxation is the first non-medicated solution.

However, if the severe migraines persist, consult your doctor for a prescription. He/she will set up a long-term treatment against migraines, based on analgesics, or adapted to neurological diseases.

COP9 would like to bring your attention to the risks of self-medication! Migraine sufferers may take inappropriate doses of medication as a preventive measure, or even overuse them. This abuse of medication by migraine sufferers can have side effects and lead to more severe ocular migraines.

First and foremost, opt for a treatment prescribed by a health professional for real relief! 

More information on ocular migraines?

The COP9 team invites you to complete our article on ocular migraines by discovering the website of the French Headache Society. And to stay in touch with us, don’t hesitate to join our Facebook page or to subscribe to our Instagram to follow all our news on the social networks! 

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