Migraines are a common form of headache that affect 15% of the population, predominantly in females. They may be accompanied by nausea and light sensitivity, and may last from several hours to a few days. Symptoms of migraines are commonly the presenting concern that brings a patient to visit an optometrist.

What is an aura?
A visual aura is the perception of disturbances in the vision. It is referred to as an ocular migraine. This may include zigzag lines in the visual field, shimmering lights, and or a “cracked glass” appearance. Blind spots are also common, and may increase in size or drift in position. These symptoms often precede the migraine itself. Aura symptoms usually last up to half an hour before the vision is restored
Should I see an optometrist for a migraine?
Yes, you should complete a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist. It is important to understand that symptoms of migraine can mimic other serious health and ocular conditions. A dilated fundus exam should be completed to rule out disease of the retina, such as retinal tears, which can also cause visual disturbances like flashing lights. Headaches themselves can also have a wide range of etiologies, including an update to your spectacle prescription, or even dangerous neuropathies of the optic nerve. Additional tools should also be used such as OCT imaging and visual field tests.

Recurrent migraines are also a risk factor for another disease called glaucoma. This is due to the temporary decrease in blood flow to the eye. Patients should be closely monitored as this disease may cause progressive and permanent vision loss.

What can be done for migraines?

Your optometrist can advise you on steps to address migraines. Firstly, it may be advisable to consult your family practitioner, who may be able to prescribe preventative pharmacological therapy. Otherwise, avoiding common triggers such as stress, dehydration, lack of sleep, bright lights or certain foods can help decrease the frequency of attacks. Since triggers vary person to person, you may want to keep a migraine diary to help determine your own specific triggers.

At Spectrum Eye Care, we are equipped with the skills and latest technology to expertly assess the health of the eye and its role in symptoms related to migraines. Don’t hesitate to contact us to book an appointment or if you have any other quests.