What Is Retinal Migraine?
There really are few things scarier then suddenly being partially blind. It happened one day while I was out with my family — suddenly I noticed my vision had changed in one eye. I wear contacts, so naturally I thought that might be the issue. But soon I could not see anything from mid-point up in my field of vision in that one eye.
My husband was panicked, thinking it was a stroke. I also felt very out of it and in a fog of confusion. By the time I got to a doctor, my eyesight had returned. I had no signs of a headache and never considered it could have been a migraine. My doctor determined that it may have been retinal migraine, a term used to describe a type of migraine where symptoms affect your eyesight.
In general, eyesight problems with migraine affect both eyes and impact your overall eyesight. But, in contrast, a retinal migraine typically occurs in a single eye. The underlying cause of retinal migraine seems to remain unknown, even to migraine experts.
But my neurologist says recent studies examining people with active retinal migraine have found some individuals were experiencing a spasm of the blood supply to the retina as their migraine occurred.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, there are no specific diagnostic tests to confirm migraine disease in any form it may take. Diagnosis is accomplished by reviewing your personal medical history, looking at your family’s medical history with headaches, examining all your symptoms closely (location of your pain, what triggers it, how often the headaches occur, and their duration) and conducting a physical examination. Migraine can often be diagnosed because your doctor has ruled out other causes for your symptoms.
But, with retinal migraine, it is all the more essential that any other possible causes of your transient blindness be fully investigated and other complications and conditions ruled out.
Will Retinal Migraine Return?
This is a condition that is considered to be rare, but the true frequency of retinal migraine has not really been highly researched and remains pretty much unknown.
The reason for this may be, like myself, people who get this type of vision loss do not have a clue it could be caused by a migraine.
Speaking for myself, I was afraid and deeply convinced it was something wrong within my eye or in my brain. My first reaction was to rule out the possibility it was a mild stroke. I am probably not alone, so the true number of people it affects and the frequency it occurs is not known.
Who Does It Affect?
According to my doctor, I fit the profile of the typical person who gets retinal migraine, since it is most common in women who are in their childbearing years, and who also have a history of migraine with aura. Generally, a diagnosis of retinal migraine is made after other causes are ruled out including other non-migraine related eye disorders.