5 Ways to Treat Eye Migraine Symptoms

Here are some ways to treat eye migraine symptoms and hopefully reduce migraine eye pain. When I feel my eye muscles start to crush down, on one or both eyes, I know I am in for a nasty migraine attack. 

These migraines have many names: optical migraines, ocular migraines, visual migraines, monocular migraines, and can also be called painless, Acephalgic or silent migraines.

I would assume that most migraines have visual disturbances that are followed by a host of other symptoms.

You might like to read our complex migraine article that discusses the four stages of migraine episodes.

I experience the pain in both eyes, but it continues onto a full blown attack on one side of the head. I understand that there are three levels we might reach. Some of us have very mild symptoms and don’t really need any further treatment, as the episode passes in half an hour or so.

For those of us who have moderate to severe attacks, which means the eye migraine symptoms progress to the pain phase, we will do best to use medications to help abort or manage the pain phase. It is common not to have any pain with an optical migraine, but if you have classic migraines the aura will most likely be followed the pain phase. 

Then there is retinal detachment and stroke, which are different things all together. I don’t mention this to scare you, but it is important that if you experience any of these symptoms, that you get to your doctor right away to make sure it is not from something more serious. 

Common Eye Migraine Symptoms

Eye MigraineOuch!

• Pressure behind or around the eyes

• Shimmering, sparkling or spots

• Jagged edges of things before you

• Slowly expanding field of visual disturbance

• No pain

This normally lasts around 20-30 minutes and then stops, or leads on to the pain phase.

The clearest warning I have read to date is seeing blackness. Your best warning signal that something is wrong is if you are seeing black! So, nothing sparkling or expanding, just black in your vision. Then you know something is up and to get to the hospital immediately. This could be a sign of a stroke. 

Same Triggers, Same Causes and Same Treatment

Eye migraine has the same triggers as classical migraine attack: fatigue, skipping meals, caffeine withdrawal, stress and certain foods can trigger a migraine.

They have the same causes as classical migraine: cortical spreading depression effects the electrical impulses in our brains, hormones get released, and the blood vessels spasm. This is my abbreviated interpretation of the current theory, but stay tuned!

Then the pain phase kicks in, and the hangover comes later. Timing when treating an acute attack is crucial. At your earliest warning signal you need to take action.

For mild to moderate migraines you might be able to reduce the symptoms using caffeine or natural alternatives. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen aka Advil® or Motrin® or acetaminophen aka Tylenol® might work well.

You might like to read caffeine and migraine and migraine relief without drugs for more details. 

For severe migraines it is best to use abortive medications from the family of triptans, specifically designed to target migraines, combined with ibuprofen or naproxen aka Aleve® if you can take them. They are not considered for people with a history of heart attacks, strokes or any other vascular disease. 

If you get migraines regularly you might want to consider migraine prevention medications, I have chosen a more natural approach even though I get mine twenty days each month.

Ice Packs for Eye Migraine Symptoms

So how do you treat your eye migraine symptoms so they don't progress to full blown migraine attack?

I use ice packs, bed rest and choose to be proactive with healthy lifestyle choices.

I know you hear me say that everywhere, but it’s true certain things help.

First thing you have to do is go to your doctor and get the correct diagnosis. You must be sure what you have so you can treat it. 

1. Make Some Notes

By keeping a migraine diary you will be able to provide your doctor with some details you might not recall when asked. Plus, after you have your diagnosis, you will need to figure out what your triggers are.

You can more easily see patterns and consequences if you keep notes. You know: one red wine, one migraine the next day. You can also show your doctor as you go along to help you determine what needs to be changed.

Once you identify the triggers that set your migraines in action, make every attempt to avoid them.

2. Find Your Triggers 

As I have already mentioned, eye migraine has the same triggers as classical migraine attack: foods, MSG, alcohol, fatigue, skipping meals, caffeine withdrawal, stress, and eye strain. Glare from your computer screen and glare from the sunshine. Glare reflecting off water, you get the picture. 

You need to become a bit of a detective here, in some cases, in order to find your triggers. They can accumulate. 

Stress is a big problem for migraineurs. Every precaution should be taken to minimize stress in your life if possible. If it is not possible then you will need to learn some new tricks.

3. Wear Tinted Lenses

I can highly recommend trying tinted lenses to reduce migraine attacks. The current trend is the FL 41 rose colored tint, but I went to an optometrist that has a special colorimeter designed to pick the tint for us migraineurs and FL 41 was not right for me. 

In fact, it increased my anxiety in those bright office lights. The machine uses a full spectrum of color from yellow to blue. I am teal! So please check around before you spend too much money on something that might not help.

Another tip here is to wear polarized sun glasses outdoors. You can wear them indoors as well as but only the polarized lens protects your eyes from glare.

4. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Eye Migraine Text Box Tips

The first few times you experience these symptoms it can be scary. Learn ways to reduce your anxiety.

Take some rests through the day, or make sure you have some time for yourself scheduled in somewhere.  

Learn to meditate, and learn biofeedback training. These are proven to help with migraines. Read our meditation for migraines section for some more ideas.

But for the easiest and fastest relief for eye migraine I just use ice packs.

Sometimes I prefer heat to relax all the muscles around my eyes. It just depends. You might like to read our article on how to treat migraines using ice and heat.

An easy way to relax is to just listen to a guided meditation or relaxation CD or MP 3. One of my favorites is Dr. Weil’s Breathing CD.

Here are some more I love:


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Eye migraines typically last between twenty to thirty minutes and although the symptoms can be scary at first, you will learn to manage them. They are considered harmless and don't cause any long-term damage.

5. Be Proactive with Healthy Lifestyle Choices

I talk about this on almost every page of this website. I was a bit of a health nut before I got migraines anyway, but I still believe that a healthy body and a healthy mind gives me my best chance at creating a fabulous life and surviving this chronic migraine condition. 

I can recommend reading: ice packs for migraine reliefbiofeedback and migraines, and acupuncture treatments to help you cope with regular migraines. Biofeedback and acupuncture are now a common suggestion from traditional medicine because they are having such positive results in helping reduce migraine attacks.

If your migraines are more severe I can also suggest getting some extra migraine support with a qualified counselor locally or on-line. Either way, it's just so nice to talk to someone who understands and who can teach you new coping skills.

Remember you don't have to do this alone any longer, you can find help on this long hard journey, and often, it's only a phone call away.

› 5 Ways to Treat Eye Migraine Symptoms

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