Symptoms of Retinal Migraine
- Change in vision that may including flashing rays of light, perceptions of bright colored streaks or zigzag lightning patterns, halos or diagonal lines.
- Sudden, reversible, visual disturbances within one eye that may last a few minutes to a couple of hours.
- Loss of vision including blurring, blank areas, black dots or spots in the field of vision, causing partial or complete blindness.
- Visual impairment, such as the coming together of spots and “tunnel vision” (not being able to see items in the periphery of one’s visual field), are less common.
- The eye that experiences the visual disturbance often occurs is on the same side of the person’s typical migraine headache and it can sometimes precede, accompany, or (rarely) follow one.
How do you know what you have is not just a migraine with aura? There are a couple of differentiating factors between retinal migraine and migraine with aura:
- The visual symptoms of retinal migraine are only in one eye, or monocular.
- Total, but temporary, monocular blindness may occur when having a retinal migraine.
Prevention and Treatment
If you experience partial vision loss, don’t panic — but seek medical help right away. Your doctor, once they determine that retinal migraine is the diagnosis, can prescribe methods to curb this type of migraine’s occurrence.
They may suggest the use of medications typically used to prevent regular, typical migraines, though more research is needed to determine which ones actually work best. And prevention is important to work towards since people with retinal migraine have a greater chance of experiencing permanent vision loss than people with other forms of traditional migraine.
Research indicates medicinal therapy on an attack of retinal migraine will probably rule out the use of triptans or ergots drugs, mainly because these medications work by constricting blood vessels. Since that is what is believed to happen in the case of retinal migraine, it is considered counterproductive by most doctors.
Preventative medications that have been tried and reported to offer possible benefits include:
- Calcium-channel blockers such as verapamil and nifedipine.
- Beta-blockers, antidepressants and some anticonvulsants.
- Low-dose daily aspirin therapy, though there is no specific amount or guidelines, is reported to be well-tolerated and there are recorded instances it was helpful in treatment.
- Medications including NSAIDs, anti-nausea medications, or Midrin have been used for infrequent attacks and are used effectively for other forms of migraine and their symptoms.
If you think you have retinal migraine, speak to your doctor right away. Bring to your appointment a list of your symptoms, past migraine history, possible triggers, the duration, and good description of the attack.