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Eye Health – More on Ocular Migraine

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Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist, Hospital Fatimah Ipoh
Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us more about OCULAR MIGRAINES.

Ocular Migraine may be a terrifying experience when it happens to a person for the first time.  The person may actually feel as if they are going blind. Some have described Ocular Migraine as a feeling similar to having a stroke. The visual symptoms can often be quite dramatic and frightening. The good thing is, it usually lasts for only a short while.

Most of the time, it starts as a small, enlarging dark area (scotoma) in your central vision. The dark central area then usually enlarges to move across the entire field of vision and the person feels like he or she is losing vision quickly in the eye.

Although symptoms are in the eye, the actual seat of the migraine activity is in the brain located at the back of the skull (visual cortex). The blood vessels here go into spasm thereby causing the symptoms and later begin dilating causing the blood vessels to over-fill and result in a throbbing or “pounding” headache.

Eye Health - Dr S.S. Gill
Ocular Migraine

Some common causes:

  • Overtiredness, fatigue, lack of sleep, weather changes, stress and depression.
  • Hormonal fluctuations as in menstruation.
  • Some medications like oral contraceptives.
  • Foods containing MSG, alcohol consumption, caffeinated beverages, cheese, tea, coffee, chocolates, artificial sweeteners, meats preserved in nitrates.

What to do for an Ocular Migraine

  • WHEN DRIVING: If it occurs when you are driving, pull to the side until vision is clear.
  • WHEN OPERATING MACHINERY: Always move away from the machine!
  • Generally, ocular migraines do not cause any harm like a permanent visual or brain damage. Hence, it usually requires no treatment. Nevertheless, always consult your eye doctor when you have unusual vision symptoms to make sure that it truly is Ocular Migraine and nothing else.

Some home remedies:

  • Applying cold compresses over the head to relieve any nagging headache.
  • Closing the eyes to rest.
  • Retiring to a darkened room to relax and de-stress often helps.
  • Sleep adequately for at least seven to eight hours every day.
  • Hydrate well and drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid alcohol and limit caffeine intake as well.
  • Medication like analgesics may provide some relief should you have any headaches.
  • Medication that have effects on blood vessels such as cafergot and ergotamine can also be used for migraine relief.
  • It is important to take medication only on the prescription of a doctor. Avoid self-medication beyond a simple analgesic or a cool compress.

Should you require further information, please contact Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah 05-5455582 or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.