Managing Ocular Migraine Symptoms

Here are 10 tips to help deal with ocular migraine symptoms so you know what they look like, and then what you can do to reduce or relieve them.

Ocular migraines are rare and just like classic migraines it is important to learn and avoid your triggers and find ways to reduce your symptoms.

Ocular migraines are not necessarily associated with a headache or a migraine pain phase.

These headaches occur when the blood flow in the brain responds to a trigger.

These triggers can vary from bright lights, foods, medications or even hormones. Just like those associated with classical migraine headaches.

In response to these triggers, the brain may produce light patterns, which can include blind spots or zig-zag patterns. The ocular migraines are quite different from the regular migraines. It is quite normal to have an optical migraine aura without headaches.

Take Medication

The first symptoms occurring can appear to be like flashing lights, blind spots or zig-zag patterns.

When these start, taking a pain reliever can help relax the nerves in the brain and can possibly help prevent a headache from accompanying the ocular migraine.

See your physician to find the best medication to take for your unique situation.

Try Caffeine

There are a lot of things that are still not known about the ocular migraines. Drinking caffeine, in any form that you like such as soda (I don’t recommend soda, too much sugar!) or coffee, may help alleviate these headaches.

We don't know for sure at this time if the caffeine actually helps the ocular symptoms, but still may be beneficial if you have headache pain afterwards.

It is well worth a trial and error experiment.

Protect Yourself from Light Exposure

Ocular Migraine Symptoms Blind Spots

One thing that might help is the wearing of sunglasses inside or out! Polarized sunglasses, in particular, can help protect your eyes from the glare of interior lighting or computers.

There are times when the light is actually the trigger for the ocular migraine and sitting or lying in a dark room can be very beneficial.

If this is not possible, shut your eyes and try to rest for at least 15 minutes.

For example, looking at this picture feels like it is triggering a migraine for me. So glare is definitely a trigger for me. But I never leave the house without my polarized or migraine tinted sunglasses.

Driving Caution

Common sense will tell you that if you have an ocular migraine while driving, pull over and stop the car.

Make sure you have a mobile or cell phone with you to call someone to come and get you.

You can always get the car later. Or call a taxi so you can get home and rest. Resting for at least 15 minutes might help - try lying down in the back seat and covering your eyes for complete darkness.

Do not attempt to operate machinery or drive while experiencing an ocular migraine.

Stay Calm

One of the best things which you can do is to stay calm.

Typically the ocular migraines last ten minutes to an hour and are not known to have long lasting effects.

The more you can relax and avoid stress until the symptoms disappear, the better off you will be.

Plus, once you learn your early warning signals in your ocular migraine symptoms, you will know what to do and feel more in control.

You can take action to take care of yourself.

See A Doctor

Although typically, the ocular migraines do not cause damage, see a doctor to double check.

The doctor can prescribe medication such as Cafergot, which slows down the blood flow changes and can help to relieve the pain during or following the ocular migraine.

Your condition may be another more serious problem such as retinal detachment or an aneurysm. So it’s important to rule out the serious stuff first.

Know Your Headache Trigger(s)

Keep a log of events that trigger your ocular migraines.

Once you have figured out what typically triggers them, avoid these if at all possible.

Learn Massage

Learning techniques of massage can temporarily help with your migraine.

Massaging certain areas of the head and neck have been found to be very helpful.

Have a look at our migraine pressure points article for some effective points to press when you feel the inner alarm from the warning signals.

Dampen A Washcloth

Lie down, close your eyes and place a cold slightly damp washcloth over your eyes. This helps best if it is done in a darkened, quiet room.

Tell people what you are doing and that you need to be quiet and silent for half an hour or so.

Then just try to drift away and think about walking through the garden, all shaded and safe.

Other Ocular Migraine Symptoms

Some people suffer from other symptoms such as dizziness, double vision, nausea, vomiting, sweating or intense eye pain.

Take your medication as soon as possible or see your physician.

It is not uncommon to sleep for a few hours after an ocular migraine. This usually helps quell the left over symptoms and then you typically wake up refreshed and feeling much better.

Ocular migraines are not common and one of the most important things is to attempt to figure out what your triggers actually are and then endeavor to avoid them.

This should help to decrease the frequency of your ocular migraine symptoms and attacks.

How to Cope With Symptoms

I think the best way to cope with some of these symptoms is to rest in a nice dark room with ice wraps or a sinus mask on your eyes or a warm wet face cloth. Nice and quiet, calm and peaceful.

Find out if if you get more relief with ice or heat, from your ocular migraine symptoms and use that next time.

Learning what works as you go can be trial and error, but it is worth experimenting until you find what works for you.

Listening to a soothing meditation or relaxation CD helps me calm down while I humbly allow the symptoms to pass.

Migraine Headache Music lists all my favorites.

How do you cope with your ocular migraine symptoms? Let us know here.

Until next time, be well and be pain free.

› Managing Ocular Migraine Symptoms

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With this new information, what one thing can you do now to reduce your attacks?