Migraine Vision Blur: Cautions and Solutions

My solution is simple, blurred or distorted migraine vision is my first sign that an attack is on its way. Here are some cautions and some solutions for you to become aware of if you get blurry too. 

Over 20 million Americans get migraines, 3 million here in Australia, who knows how many world wide - really!

Despite the fact that they are a common occurrence, the experts have not been able to determine the exact cause of this debilitating neurological condition.

Many people, who get migraine headaches, also experience such symptoms as dizziness, vertigo, migraine eye pain, and visual problems.

Approximately 20% of us get these attacks that are accompanied by visual dysfunction causing symptoms. These are sometimes called a migraine aura. The aura has visual symptoms and typically appears about 15-20 minutes prior to the onset of the headache. However, from personal experience, I know that there are times when it could be up to an hour before or more.

The Cause of Blur

Distorted migraine vision does not start in the eyes. It originates in the brain causing visual symptoms because the visual cortex is effected. This is the part of our brain that is responsible for sight.

The experts aren’t really sure about what causes this. According to WebMD the current theories are a spasm in the blood vessels in the lining behind the eye called the retina. The second theory is that changes spread across the nerve cells in the retina.

I just feel like my eyes are being crushed in a vice. And then its like looking through Vaseline.

A word of warning: there is a higher risk of having permanent loss of vision and increased risk of stroke for us migraineurs with this type of aura symptom.

Auras can include common disturbances like:

• Dots or spots of light

• Wavy or jagged lines

• Blind spots

• Flashing or shimmering lights

• Colored lights

• Distorted vision

• Blurred vision

• Cloudy vision

• Sensitivity to light

• Temporary vision loss

Migraine Vision

One of the hallmarks of migraine is the all too familiar repetitive cycle of the chronic symptoms.

The same symptoms happen over and over again for a period of many years.

Blurry migraine vision is just one symptom that will reoccur.

One of the cautions that should be taken seriously is to know your migraine, your auras, and your typical symptoms. If there is a change in your usual visual symptoms that you experience, it could indicate something more serious and you should notify your physician as soon as possible.

You might like to read our article on ways to treat eye migraine symptoms for more details on warning signs. 

During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and typically have migraines or migraines with auras, you might be happy to know your migraines may improve. It has been reported that about 70% of women notice an improvement during pregnancy. Hormonal migraines are so common.

Nausea and vomiting, which often accompany pregnancy and migraines, should be treated. These can place stress on the unborn baby. 

Women should not take medication during pregnancy, however with migraines; the severe pain of the headache can cause the adrenaline level in the body to go up. This in turn can increase the unborn baby's heart rate and the mother's blood pressure. Some physicians will prescribe daily medication for pregnant mothers with this problem.

Cautions and Solutions

In mild cases the typical vision changes last only a few minutes, but if you are driving, you should still pull off the road immediately for your own (and others) safety. The same goes with any instance where you might risk your safety, as with operating heavy equipment.

Whether accompanied by a headache or not, the same type treatments as for a common migraine can help to decrease your visual problems. Moderate to severe cases causing migraine vision problems may be best treated with medications. 

Know your triggers and practice preventive therapy. If you can decrease the frequency or severity of the migraines, then the visual problems should also decrease. Keep a regular routine, exercise regularly and attempt to reduce your emotional stress. Reducing glare is also important. Wearing migraine specific tinted lenses or polarized lenses could help immensely. 

Always take your medicine with you if you are planning on travelling. The way your body reacts to your medication has the potential of changing over time, so if they appear to be becoming less effective, talk with your physician to come up with a treatment plan that could work better for your migraines and your migraine vision symptoms.

Staying in touch with your doctor is very important.

My Solution for Blurry Migraine Vision

My solution is simple, blurred or distorted migraine vision, is my first sign that an attack is on its way. I take my medications, get my ice pack and hot water bottle and head for bed! I listen to a CD until I fall asleep.

You might like to read our article on how to treat a migraine with ice and heat and how to prevent migraines

I also take proactive measures by wearing tinted lenses from a behavioral optometrist. If you can't afford $700 for glasses I can recommend Theraspecs and Axon Optics. They both have special lenses designed for us migraine sufferers. 

1. WebMD (2013) Ocular Migraine Basics. [Online] Available: http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/ocular-migraine-basics

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