Migraines are a common neurological condition. 15-20% of people suffer from migraines, and 50% of women have them.
Visual Disturbances During Migraines
A classic migraine starts with visual symptoms, such as zigzag lines, colored lights or flashes of lights. They are followed by a severe headache on one side of the head. Nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity may accompany the vision disturbance.
Occasionally people experience flashes of light that look jagged or resemble “heat waves” in both eyes. This is caused by a spasm of blood vessels in the brain.
What is an Ocular Migraine?
When these symptoms are not followed by a headache, this condition is referred to as an Ocular Migraine (or Ophthalmic Migraine), also known as a migraine without headache.
Causes of Migraines
It is believed that a migraine is caused by an abnormality in serotonin in the brain which, in turn, causes the vessels to constrict or tighten. Certain foods can trigger migraines. According to Migraine.com, the most common foods that trigger migraines are:
- Chocolate (75%)
- Cheese, particularly aged cheese (48%)
- Citrus fruits (30%)
- Alcohol, particularly red wine and beer (25%)
Perfume and medications are also considered environmental triggers. In addition, women may experience migraines due to hormonal changes.
Treatment of Migraines
Migraine treatments include eliminating problem foods and environmental triggers. Certain medications may also be prescribed.
If you experience an Ocular Migraine, contact your ophthalmologist. Rarely, a person may encounter double vision, eyelid droop, change in pupil size and lingering visual disturbances. This may be due to a stroke associated with migraine and immediate medical attention is necessary.