What are the Symptoms of an Ocular Migraine Headache?

Angela Crout-Mitchell

There are several symptoms that can be caused by the presence of an ocular migraine headache, including pain, blurry vision, and even partial vision loss. It is also not uncommon for migraine headaches to cause a sensation of dimming light, blind spots in one's vision, and unusual flashes of light. This type of vascular headache is sometimes heralded by an aura, characterized by the patient seeing a haze of light around objects that often begins ten to 20 minutes before the actual onset of the headache or migraine. Other symptoms may also appear in addition to the light auras. It is recommended that anyone experiencing these symptoms without a previous history of ocular headache should seek medical attention as quickly as possible to rule out more serious conditions.

Nausea is only experienced by some ocular migraine sufferers.
Nausea is only experienced by some ocular migraine sufferers.

Most people associate extreme pain, nausea, and light sensitivity to the occurrence of migraine headache. In the event of an ocular migraine headache, the light sensitivity is almost always present, but pain and nausea do not manifest for all patients. To complicate matters further, pain may be present during one migraine and then not during the next episode, making it difficult for the patient to be prepared to handle the headache attack.

Some ocular migraine headaches are prefaced by the auras that often accompany traditional migraines.
Some ocular migraine headaches are prefaced by the auras that often accompany traditional migraines.

Ocular migraine headache symptoms most often affect the patient's sight in some way, such as through blurred vision, spots or scotomas before the eyes, and the possibility of partial vision loss for a time. Some people have also reported seeing unexplained flashing lights in their vision during this type of migraine. There seems to be a greater likelihood of ocular headache in older people and the symptoms can be very frightening, especially when the occurrence has never happened before. In most cases, regardless of the patient's age, the adverse changes to the person's vision are typically short lived, most commonly only about five minutes. Some patients have reported vision disturbances that have lasted 30 minutes or longer, though this is uncommon.

An ocular migraine sometimes causes vision disturbances in only one eye.
An ocular migraine sometimes causes vision disturbances in only one eye.

Like the pain and nausea symptoms, the appearance of warning symptoms before an ocular migraine headache is not experienced by every migraine sufferer. For patients that do have warning signs, they usually manifest as light auras surrounding any object in the person's vision, feelings of dizziness and confusion, and, in some cases, double vision. A lack of coordination and overall feelings of mental disconnect are common as well. These symptoms are usually apparent to the patient in the preceding ten minutes before the actual headache symptoms appear. The warning signs and auras typically disappear once the ocular migraine headache symptoms begin.

Pain and blurred vision are signs of ocular migraine headaches.
Pain and blurred vision are signs of ocular migraine headaches.
Those who have an ocular migraine, but never had one previously, should quickly see a doctor to rule out other, serious conditions.
Those who have an ocular migraine, but never had one previously, should quickly see a doctor to rule out other, serious conditions.
Some ocular migraines might cause disorientation and confusion.
Some ocular migraines might cause disorientation and confusion.

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