Ocular migraines are migraines involving the eyes. They can manifest in several ways with a variety of symptoms, and neurologists use the term slightly differently, which can lead to some confusion. As a general rule, an instance of severe visual disruption is classified as an ocular migraine, whether or not it is accompanied by pain. Most people seek the attention of an ophthalmologist after experiencing these migraines because of the vision related symptoms, but they should also visit a neurologist. A neurologist may be able to determine the root cause and make recommendations for preventing the recurrence of ocular migraines.
Often, no pain is associated with migraines around the eyes. Instead, the field of vision is severely disrupted. Flashing lights, distortion, and vision loss have all been reported by patients experiencing the condition. Sometimes, only one eye is involved, and the symptoms usually disappear after approximately half an hour. It is believed that the cause of these migraines is a change in the blood flow of the brain, and a number of things may trigger them.
The hallucinations associated with these migraines are sometimes known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, due to their resemblance to the imaginary world of Lewis Carroll. Some neurologists have suggested that the topsy-turvy world of Alice in Wonderland may have come from the mind of someone who experienced these migraines. In some instances, a migraine follows the visual symptoms of an ocular migraine. Other symptoms may include pain around the eyes, nausea, vomiting, and double vision.
Stress and changes in the menstrual cycle of women are believed to be associated with ocular migraines. In addition, some foods may act as triggers. These foods include caffeine, chocolate, aged cheeses, rich meat, and red wine. If a patient has severe ocular migraines accompanied by intense pain, a neurologist may lead the patient on an elimination diet, to determine which food is acting as a trigger. Patients who experience no pain may choose to go on an elimination diet as well, since these migraines can be very disruptive to daily life.
Any patient who experiences strange visual symptoms and regular headaches should seek medical attention. Visual anomalies and head pain can be symptoms of a more serious problem. When visiting a doctor to consult about these problems, it is helpful to have a list of when symptoms have appeared, so that the doctor can look for a common link between incidents.