An ocular migraine is a term that has been used to describe a number of migraine subtypes. The main indicator of an ocular migraine is visual disturbances that may or may not be accompanied by traditional head pain.

There are two main types of migraines that “ocular migraine” may refer to migraines with aura (visual migraines) and retinal migraines.

Migraine with aura

Visual migraines are typically harmless, if incredibly frustrating. They are characterized by specific visual disturbances like the following:

  • Blind spots
  • Light flashes
  • “Seeing stars” or other visual patterns
  • (Rarely) Other speech or motor skill disturbances

These effects are generally present in both eyes at once and normally clear in under an hour. While it can be dangerous to drive or perform other activities during a visual migraine, the migraine itself does not typically present a significant health risk.

A visual migraine may signal the onset of a migraine headache, or no pain may occur at all.

Retinal migraine

A retinal migraine is a true ocular migraine, and when you see the term “ocular migraine” in a medical context, this is usually what it refers to.

Retinal migraines are often confused for visual migraines as they present with many of the same symptoms, often a visual disturbance accompanying a blind spot. Retinal migraines are less likely to be present in both eyes. Alternately covering one eye at a time can help you determine which eye is affected and whether what you’re experiencing is likely to be a retinal or visual migraine.

Retinal migraines do carry a risk of permanent vision loss. It is important to get any migraine symptoms checked by a doctor.

The retinal migraine’s key symptom: a shifting blind spot in one eye, is also a symptom of a much more serious condition known as retinal detachment. If you experience any vision loss, don’t risk your eye health. Contact your doctor and rule out any serious conditions right away. Retinal detachments are a time-sensitive problem, so call your doctor immediately if you notice a “curtain” or blind spot hovering around your peripheral vision, whether you have suffered from migraines in the past or not.

Treating ocular migraines

Migraine treatments have come a long way and there are several new prescription drugs on the market that can help you have fewer migraine days. For those who suffer from infrequent migraine episodes, over the counter painkillers may be enough to lessen symptoms and hasten recovery. Anti-nausea medicine may also be helpful. However, if you find that normal doses of regular painkillers are not working for you, talk to your doctor about finding a different pain medication.

Aside from medication, there are a few other things you can do to ease a migraine, just as you would any other headache. Stop working and relax. Dim the lights and keep your forehead cool with a damp cloth. Try to avoid loud noises. This should help to lessen the pain and nausea associated with migraines.

If you absolutely must go outside or into a brightly lit area while experiencing a migraine, wear a pair of good sunglasses to protect your light-sensitive eyes.

Preventing ocular migraines

Start by talking to your optometrist. If your ocular migraines are accompanied by migraine pain, your doctor will be able to recommend medication to treat or prevent the headaches.

Ocular migraines can be difficult to prevent. If you begin experiencing the visionary disturbances of a migraine with aura or a retinal migraine, take note of them. Mark down how frequently they occur and record possible stressors like your diet, sleep schedule and any noteworthy events that may have preceded the episode. Stress and poor diet can trigger or worsen migraines. Dehydration has also been linked to more frequent migraine episodes.

If you frequently experience migraines at the end of a long workday, you may be exacerbating them by staring too long at a computer screen.’s Blue495 anti-glare coating can help reduce eye strain and may lower your odds of a migraine, ocular or otherwise.

Get regular eye exams

If you start experiencing migraine symptoms, contact your eye doctor. Most migraines are not emergency situations, but sometimes the symptoms of more serious conditions like a retinal detachment can be confused for an ocular migraine.

Even if you don’t experience migraines, keeping up with annual eye exams is a good idea. Your eye doctor will be able to identify any potential early warning signs of diseases like diabetes or macular degeneration. You will also be given an up to date prescription which ensures that your prescription glasses will be working at their best for you. And once you have your prescription, you’ll be free to shop online for great deals on online eyeglasses from sites like