Eye migraine: symptoms, causes and duration
May 18, 2019, 4:03 p.m. | dpa, t-online.com
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It flickers in front of the eyes, flashes of light cross the view, vision is restricted: The symptoms of eye migraine are particularly frightening the first time. The causes of the disease have not yet been researched in detail, but those who know the triggers can minimize or even prevent eye migraine attacks.
Overview of the
Eye migraine (ophthalmic migraine) is a rare form of migraine. Its symptoms vary greatly from person to person and can change over the years. Fortunately, permanent damage does not occur due to migraine.
Typical symptoms of eye migraine are:
- Eye fibrillation (also with closed eyes)
- visual disturbances
- Restrictions of the visual field (scotoma)
- flashes of light
- sensitivity to light
- Painful eyes
Restricted vision is particularly characteristic of an eye migraine attack. Doctors speak of so-called scotomas when the visual field is impaired. Either the field of vision narrows from the outside to the inside (blinker effect) or there are failures in the middle of the field of vision.
Typical symptoms are also so-called flickering scotomas: Part of the field of vision appears flickering and is accompanied by flashes of light. These scotomas often migrate and change in shape and size. Some patients also report double images or optical hallucinations in which they see objects that are not really there.
Headaches are rather rare, but can also be severe and stabbing. If vision is severely impaired, some patients also suffer from impaired balance, which they perceive as dizziness.
Causes of eye migraine
The exact causes of eye migraine have not yet been researched, but genetic factors may play a role. Scientists suspect that the attacks are caused by a defective regulation of the blood vessels in the brain. As a result, the part responsible for vision receives too little blood and oxygen. This can lead to dropouts or disturbances in visual perception. In addition, doctors suspect that the optic nerve transmits perceived images incompletely because processes in the nerve tracts are disturbed.
Eye migraines often occur between the ages of 15 and 45; women are more often affected than men. In addition, children of migraine patients have an increased risk of developing migraine themselves.
Duration and frequency of eye migraines
While a classic migraine lasts for several hours, an eye migraine usually lasts only five to ten minutes, in rare cases up to 60 minutes. How often an eye migraine attack occurs varies from patient to patient. Sometimes there are years between the attacks, in stressful situations they can occur weekly.
What triggers an eye migraine?
An eye migraine can be triggered by different stimuli, so-called triggers:
- Very bright light
- alcohol consumption
- sleep deprivation
- certain foodstuffs
- hormone fluctuations
- weather change
Patients should observe what stimulus could have triggered an attack. In food, flavour enhancers such as glutamate, but also natural ingredients such as tyramine or histamine are possible triggers. Observe how you react to tomatoes, nuts, chocolate, red wine, milk or liver. “Those who know the triggers can avoid them and thus significantly reduce the frequency of a seizure,” says Ursula Hilpert-Mühlig of the Fachverband Deutscher Heilpraktiker. It can help to take notes. In the long term, relaxation techniques such as autogenic training or yoga can also do good.
What to do in case of an eye migraine attack?
There is no special therapy for eye migraine. If the attack occurs for the first time, one thing above all applies: “Keep calm, even if this is not quite easy in view of the complaints”, says ophthalmologist Georg Eckert, press spokesman of the professional association of ophthalmologists in Germany (BVA). Affected ones should retreat if possible into a darkened area, the Seh?disturbances put then by themselves. Cold cloths on the forehead and eyes can relieve any pain. Treatment with medication is usually not necessary.
Hilpert-Mühlig recommends adding two drops of an essential oil such as lavender to an aroma lamp and allowing it to evaporate. “The fragrance can have a positive effect on the recovery process,” she says. However, this can also backfire: Certain scents can trigger a seizure. Who would like to set on means of the Aromatherapie, should be advised therefore by a welfare practical man or in a pharmacy.
When to go to the doctor
Anyone who has experienced an eye migraine attack for the first time should go to an ophthalmologist to be on the safe side and rule out serious illnesses. A tendency to eye migraine can also be related to magnesium deficiency. Those affected can therefore take a magnesium preparation after consulting their doctor or pharmacist. Also, those affected should see a doctor if the vision disorder lasts longer. A retinal detachment also causes a visual disturbance, but this is permanent and does not improve after 30 minutes.
unilateral or retinal eye migraine
Retinal migraine is a rare special form of eye migraine in which only one eye is affected. It occurs when the arteries of the retina narrow. It results in reduced blood flow to the vessels. Visual disturbances, scotomas and – depending on the severity – even temporary blindness in one eye are the result. As a rule, vision is completely restored after a few hours. Learn more about retinal eye migraine here.
Eye migraine or migraine with aura?
The classical migraine is often preceded by an aura, which announces the migraine attack and resembles the eye migraine: The affected person then also has lightning in front of their eyes, blind spots or vision problems. Therefore, both diseases are often equated. However, they actually differ in the time at which they occur. In migraine with aura, the visual impairment occurs before the headache. In the case of eye migraine, headaches usually do not occur at all or only play a subordinate role.
Important note: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognised doctors. The contents of t-online.de cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.
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