Retinal Migraine Symptoms And Causes


What Is Retinal Migraine?

Retinal migraine is a relatively rare subtype of migraine that primarily affects the visual system. This condition can be distressing and disruptive, causing temporary vision loss or visual disturbances. This article aims to explore the intricacies of retinal migraine, including retinal migraine symptoms, underlying causes, diagnostic considerations, and available treatment options.

What Are Some Common Retinal Migraine Symptoms?

If you are experiencing visual symptoms in one eye, you might be experiencing retinal migraine symptoms.

Retinal migraine symptoms include visual disturbances or temporary vision loss in one eye. Some of these symptoms include temporary blindness, scintillations (twinkling lights) and/or scotoma (areas of decreased or lost vision). You may also see jagged lines, also known as fortification spectra.

You may even experience a complete loss of vision in one eye, ie. you’re unable to see in one eye because of retinal migraine. In most cases, the vision returns to normal between episodes.

Unlike typical migraine symptoms, retinal migraines do not usually present with accompanying headache pain. It is important to note that retinal migraines are relatively rare, accounting for only a small percentage of all migraines.

What Do Heatwave Lines In Vision Look Like?

One of the retinal migraine symptoms is heatwave lines in vision. Heatwave lines in vision, also known as shimmering lines or wavy lines, are visual disturbances that can occur in conditions like migraine with aura or ocular migraines. These lines may appear as wavy, jagged zigzag lines and patterns that move across the visual field, similar to the heatwaves rising from hot pavement.

You might ask, “how long does heatwave lines in vision last?” Heatwave lines are typically transient and can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Heatwave lines are caused by altered blood flow or electrical activity in the visual pathways. While heatwave lines in vision may be unsettling, they usually resolve on their own without causing permanent damage to the eyes.

Are Eye Floaters Symptoms Of Retinal Migraine?

Eye floaters are tiny specks or strands that appear to float across the field of vision. They are often more noticeable when looking at bright backgrounds or clear skies. Floaters are actually shadows cast on the retina by small clumps of gel-like substance within the eye called the vitreous humor. While eye floaters are typically harmless, sudden or severe onset of floaters accompanied by flashes of light or changes in vision may indicate a more serious condition, such as a retinal tear or detachment. Eye floaters are not necessarily symptoms of retinal migraine even though the visual disturbances may be similar.

Why Do I See Ripples In Vision?

Ripples in vision, also known as visual ripples or shimmering vision, are characterized by a perception of wavy or rippling patterns in the visual field. These ripples can be accompanied by other visual disturbances, such as flickering lights or color changes. Ripples in vision can occur in various conditions, including migraine aura, retinal migraine, or even as a side effect of certain medications. The exact cause of ripples in vision is not fully understood but ripples in vision are thought to be caused by abnormal activity in the visual pathways. If ripples in vision occur suddenly and persist or are associated with other concerning symptoms, medical evaluation is advised to rule out underlying eye or neurological conditions.

Why Am I Seeing Blue Spots?

Seeing blue spots or dots in the visual field can be a symptom of various conditions, including retinal migraine, vitreous floaters, or even retinal detachment. In retinal migraines, blue spots or dots may appear temporarily, accompanied by other visual disturbances, such as shimmering lines or blind spots. These blue spots in vision are thought to be caused by changes in blood flow or electrical activity in the visual pathways. However, sudden onset of blue spots, especially if accompanied by other significant vision changes or eye symptoms, should be evaluated by an eye care professional to rule out any underlying retinal or ocular issues. You may also see blue spots if you’re feeling anxious. Anxiety can cause migraine.

Is Retinal Migraine The Same As Painless Migraine Aura?

Retinal migraine symptoms can feel like painless migraine aura. Painless migraine aura refers to the visual disturbances experienced during a migraine episode without the accompanying headache pain. These aura symptoms can include flickering lights, zigzag lines, blind spots, or other visual anomalies. Painless migraine auras are believed to result from temporary changes in brain activity that affect the visual cortex. While the aura itself may not cause physical pain, it can still be distressing and disruptive to daily activities.

The good news is that you can record your retinal migraine symptoms with Migraine Buddy to understand the efficacy. You can download Migraine Buddy on iOS and Android!

What Causes Retinal Migraine?

The exact causes of retinal migraines are not fully understood. However, certain factors may trigger or contribute to their occurrence. Retinal migraine can be caused by stress, hormonal fluctuations, certain foods or beverages, sleep disturbances, intense physical exertion, and changes in blood flow or blood pressure. It is worth noting that individuals with a history of migraines or a family history of migraine may be more susceptible to experiencing retinal migraines.

How Long Does Retinal Migraine Last?

Generally, retinal migraine symptoms do not last long. The episodes are short and last between five to 60 minutes. 

Retinal Migraine VS Ocular Migraine?

While the symptoms of retinal migraine VS ocular migraine (or migraine with aura) may be similar to, there are key differences between the two conditions. For example, retinal migraine symptoms occur in one eye only while the visual symptoms of migraine with aura occur in both eyes.

How Do You Get Rid Of Retinal Migraine Without Medication?

Treating retinal migraines focuses on two primary aspects: preventing future episodes and relieving symptoms during acute episodes. Preventive measures may involve lifestyle modifications, stress reduction techniques, regular sleep patterns, dietary adjustments, and avoiding known triggers.

Which Medication To Take For Retinal Migraine?

In some cases, preventive migraine medications used to prevent other types of migraines, such as beta blockers for migraine, calcium channel blockers, or antiepileptic drugs, may be prescribed. During acute episodes, rest in a quiet, dark room and over-the-counter pain relievers may help alleviate discomfort. Medications like topiramate can also help with retinal migraine.

Tracking Retinal Migraine Symptoms

Many people from our #MigraineBuddy community reported visual disturbances as a symptom before a migraine attack. Start tracking visual symptoms to take control of migraine now!

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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