What Is an Ocular Migraine?


Migraines have many different types and subtypes. One of the migraines that can cause significant visual disturbances is Ocular Migraine. It is possible to experience an ocular migraine without any pain in comparison to other migraines.

It has three most common types including:

  • Retinal Migraine
  • Migraine with Aura
  • Painless Ocular Migraine

It can cause visual disturbances such as zigzag lines, shimmering lights, flashing, or seeing stars (during the day). Also, blind spots are common visual disturbances that occur because of ocular migraines. 

Symptoms of Ocular Migraine

There are various names for ocular migraines, including visual, ophthalmic, retinal, and monocular migraines. Some of the many warning signs include vision loss or impairment in one or both eyes for long durations such as 30 minutes. Sudden vision changes might also point to other underlying medical health conditions but are usually because of ocular migraines. Here are the most common symptoms of ocular migraines:

  • Throbbing or pulsating pain
  • Pain in the head (one side, near the affected eye)
  • Painful vision
  • Vision spots (blind spots)
  • Nausea
  • Light sensitivity (often sound sensitivity)
  • Vomiting

Causes of Ocular Migraine

Migraines can occur due to a variety of reasons. However, the main factor behind migraines is that they occur due to abnormal electrical activity sequences in your brain. Some areas of the cortex can suffer from higher impacts during ocular migraines. Thus, migraines spread across the brain (head), leading to the beginning of the ocular migraine effect, causing visual disturbances. Normally, ocular migraines with aura can last for nearly 60 minutes, while the symptoms can persist for up to 72 hours.

Retinal migraines can occur due to blood flow or electrical activity disturbance at the back of the eye (retina). Other common causes that lead to ocular migraines include staring at screens for longer periods, harsh lighting exposure, long-distance driving, and other activities that affect your eyes.

Certain Triggers of Ocular Migraine

Learning the cause of ocular migraine and the type you are experiencing makes it easy for your optometrist to assess the severity and suggest the right medication and treatment. Regardless, the occurrence of such migraines that cause visual disturbances is due to certain trigger factors. Moreover, these triggers can occur in combination, leading to severe effects on eye health and vision. 

  • Powerful odors
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Loud sounds
  • Weather changes
  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Bright/harsh lighting
  • Stress, Anxiety, sudden relaxation


Do you experience eye-related issues and disorders? Are you at risk of developing vision-related conditions and/or diseases? You should visit Dr. Brian Whitney, Optometrist, for optometry care.

Caring for your visions is Dr. Brian’s first priority. So, give us a call at (435) 865-0388 and set an appointment today. Visit our official website to learn more regarding our services and other valuable information.

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