A Painless Migraine? Yes, It’s Known as an Ocular Migraine

Over 38 million Americans suffer from migraines, and as many as 3 million of them may have chronic conditions. Nearly a third of migraine sufferers report that their episodes cause disability.

However, there’s a type of migraine attack that’s less typical and, surprisingly, doesn’t cause pain. An ocular migraine affects your vision in both eyes, causing a variety of visual symptoms. While these may temporarily interfere with activities such as driving or reading, ocular migraines usually aren’t considered serious.

Not to be confused with retinal migraines

Retinal migraines are rare, but they’re sometimes referred to erroneously as ocular migraines. Affecting only one eye, retinal migraines also cause a range of visual symptoms, but these can also include temporary blindness or other diminished vision. Retinal migraines may occur before or during the headache portion of a migraine episode.

The stages of migraines

While migraine symptoms are often unique to the sufferer, there are four general stages to a migraine episode. You might not experience all four, or your symptoms of each stage may be different than another person’s. Your episodes can also vary between occurrences.

The four stages of a classic migraine include:

Ocular migraines and auras

Ocular migraines fit into the aura stage, and it’s possible for you to go through the prodrome and aura stages without progressing into the headache attack stage. Thus, it’s quite possible to experience the visual disturbances of the aura on their own, a pain-free migraine. It’s still a migraine episode, but because the visual effects are the most prominent symptom, it’s called an ocular migraine.

However, even though you don’t have a headache stage, an ocular migraine may still be disorienting and disabling. Since your vision is affected, it may not be safe for you to drive or engage in activities that depend on your eyesight. Usually, though, visual disturbances are short-lived.

Whether your migraine episodes are conventional or ocular, a neurologic exam is a good idea to assure that there’s not a treatable cause for your episodes. As a headache specialist, Dr. Khan of the Arizona Institute of Neurology & Polysomnography can diagnose your condition and recommend treatment options to minimize the way your migraine episodes affect your life.

Call the office or use the Book Online tool on the website to arrange your personal exam and consultation today. It’s the first step in reducing the distraction and disability caused by ocular migraines.

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