woman suffering migraine headache

Why Am I Suddenly Getting Ocular Migraines?

Written by True Eye Experts

Have you ever suffered from an ocular migraine at the worst possible time?

Maybe you were working on a project or enjoying the Tampa Riverwalk. Migraines can be highly disruptive and downright annoying. A migraine with aura is most common among migraine sufferers, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Thankfully, you can better prevent or reduce their occurrence by learning more about this type of migraine and the factors that might contribute to them.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to migraine symptoms. So if you’re wondering why you suddenly get ocular migraines, read on to learn more.

What Are Ocular Migraines? 

An ocular migraine is an intense experience that can throw you for a loop. Generally speaking, it affects both eyes. This type of migraine causes a partial or complete loss of vision in both eyes, often resulting in a visual disturbance known as an aura.

Some report a loss of vision for up to one hour. Ocular migraines are also known as migraines with aura. According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine aura occurs in 25-30% of people with migraines.

This type of migraine is often confused with a retinal migraine. Typically, retinal migraines occur in only one eye. Retinal migraines are rare, but they share similar symptoms with ocular migraines.

Ocular Migraine Symptoms

Experiencing a visual disturbance or migraine aura may cause you to see flashing lights, blind spots, blurry vision, no vision, or possibly zig-zag lines. 

As a result of the headaches, migraine auras and retinal migraines may develop, along with the following migraine symptoms:

  • Headaches lasting up to 72 hours
  • Headache on one side of your head
  • Visual disturbances without headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Ocular Migraine Causes

These migraine symptoms are due to reduced blood flow to the eyes or spasms of the blood vessels in the eye.  

A closer look at the neurology of the nervous system and its effects on the blood vessels and blood flow play a significant role in understanding why these migraine attacks occur.

Consider if you have a family history of migraines as the cause of your ocular migraines. However, it is the migraine triggers that you need to investigate, such as those listed below.


Keeping our bodies hydrated is essential to a healthy lifestyle—for physical well-being and to ward off pesky migraines. Dehydration can be a culprit of frequent ocular migraines.

Pain relief and prevention could start with something as simple as reaching for several daily glasses of water.


The American Psychological Association reports that more than three-quarters of adults suffer stress-induced migraines and other symptoms.

Dietary Factors

Adjusting your diet can be your best solution to prevent migraine triggers. Reviewing what you ate 24 hours before having an ocular migraine may reveal a food allergy.  

Aged cheeses, processed foods, red wine, and – unfortunately for chocolate lovers – chocolate can be the culprit of a migraine aura.

Alcohol or Caffeine Intake

With the ingredients of cocoa and caffeine, the chocolate you love may cause a migraine attack. In addition, drinking alcoholic spirits, including red wines, can cause dehydration. 

As a result of blood vessel relaxation caused by alcohol consumption, increased blood flow to the brain causes migraine auras. Alcohol consumption causes the release of large amounts of electrolytes, resulting in a migraine because of dehydration.

Changes in Altitude or Air Pressure

While traveling in high altitudes, a migraine attack may occur. When traveling in high altitudes, less oxygen is available to breathe, and a migraine aura can occur. Getting medical advice before traveling at a high altitude may be your best option to prevent migraines.

Dry Eye and Visual Strain

It’s long acknowledged that viewing your laptop or other blue light devices is straining your eyes. Therefore, you should take intermittent breaks to rest your eyes.

Several studies show the connection between those who suffer from migraine aura to having dry eyes. The risk factors surrounding this type of headache require more research. 

However, some symptoms of dry eye may precede the sensation of an aura, such as light sensitivity, blurry vision, and then, of course, a painful migraine.

If you’re dealing with dry eyes and visual strain, we can help. True Eye Experts have a variety of dry eye treatments available and can provide dry eye relief tailored specifically for you!

Hormonal Swings

Several factors contribute to women suffering from these migraines more than their male counterparts, including hormonal changes, menstrual cycles, and menopause.

Ocular Migraine Treatment

Over-the-counter medication is usually the first go-to for those who suffer from ocular migraines. However, it’s always a good idea to visit your medical doctor to ensure nothing more serious is the cause.

Beta-blockers are often prescribed by a medical professional for those who have chronic migraine and experience frequent migraine attacks. 

When you notice that ocular migraines occur frequently, you experience sensitivity to light, or scotomas (blind spots), call True Eye Experts immediately.

We will give you a comprehensive eye exam and ensure we rule out a more severe condition. If we determine that you are having visual migraines, you have options from migraine glasses to transition contact lenses.  

The migraine glasses and transition contact lenses aim to help you navigate fluctuating exposure to light. Light sensitivity is a common symptom of ocular migraines.

Ocular Migraine Prevention

A simple solution to prevent ocular migraines may be to avoid migraine triggers. For instance, you may recognize that you experience migraines when you are under stress or have low blood sugar.

Migraine triggers include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Birth control/contraceptives
  • Smoking
  • High altitude

Changing your diet, staying hydrated, and exercising are all important. However, if you have tried everything without success, you have options. Discuss your migraine symptoms with your medical doctor and eye doctor.

Talk to Your Optometrist About Your Ocular Migraines 

Now that you understand ocular migraine causes and symptoms, are you ready to get help? 

We understand the challenges migraines can create. Ocular migraines can cause pain and discomfort, but treatment options are available. Talk to one of our optometrists today. You don’t have to suffer in silence. 

We can develop the right treatment plan for you by conducting a comprehensive exam. Schedule your appointment today!

About the Author

True Eye Experts

Our mission at True Eye Experts is simple — provide the best possible care to our patients. We make sure we’re doing this a few different ways. Our V-Eye-P Exam is one of the most comprehensive eye exams in the industry. We use state-of-the-art medical technology to screen, diagnose, and treat more conditions than most other providers in the area. We have an extensive collection of designer eyewear that can complement any patient’s face, style, and budget, and our advanced contact lens fitting process can help even “hard-to-fit” patients wear contacts comfortably. Book an appointment online at one of our True Eye Experts locations, conveniently located throughout Central Florida. Have questions or prefer to book over the phone? Give us a call today.


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