Seeing Flashing Lights? You Could be Having an Ocular Migraine

A young man holds his head tightly and closes his eyes

Ever have a bad migraine? They aren’t fun, but one out of 200 people that suffer from migraines endure an even worse type of migraine called an Ocular Migraine. These migraines cause vision loss, or in some cases blindness, that can last for around an hour. Some experts in the ophthalmic field call these episodes Ophthalmic Migraines.

Not many have to endure these types of migraines and in many cases ocular migraines are brought on due to other complications. Diagnosing an ocular migraine requires an eye doctor to rule out other possible complications first. According to the International Headache Society, symptoms of an Ocular Migraine can include:

  • Flashing “halos” of lights
  • Blind spots in vision
  • Complete Blindness in the eye

One major thing to note when it comes to diagnosing an ocular migraine is that the vision problems you suffer only occur in one eye. It is sometimes hard to tell if you are having vision problems in one or both of your eyes. If you find you are having any of the listed symptoms above, try to identify if it is isolated to only one of your eyes by covering one eye at a time and seeing if the symptoms persist.

It is common for migraines to cause some visual distortions in your vision. In fact, about 20% of those who suffer from migraines experience seeing flashing lights, and having blind spots in their vision, but in these common cases the symptoms appear in both eyes on one side of the field of vision.

The cause of ocular migraines still remains a bit of a mystery, some experts believe it could be related to spams in the blood vessels located in the retina, while others believe it could be attributed to changes spreading across the nerve cells in the retina. There are a lot of theories out there, but one thing that doctors and scientists can agree upon is that those who suffer from ocular migraines might have a higher risk of developing permanent vision loss in one of their eyes.

If you are suffering from an ocular migraine there is no set way to treat it, but doctors do recommend a few treatment options:

  • Taking Aspirin
  • Prescribed drugs used to help treat epilepsy, such as Depakote or Topamax
  • Prescribed antidepressants such as Elavil or Pamelor
  • Taking a beta-blocker

Make sure to see an eye doctor if you believe you might be suffering from an Ocular Migraine so that your doctor may diagnose it as such. It is important to be sure you are not suffering from other health issues that share the same symptoms.