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Home » Eye Care Services » Eye Health & Emergencies » Eye Conditions & Glossary » Ophthalmic Migraine (Migraine Aura)

Ophthalmic Migraine (Migraine Aura)

A migraine headache is usually a throbbing headache often accompanied by nausea, extreme sensitivity to light, sounds, tingling sensations, and on occasion, a visual disturbance called an aura. The visual aura is most often not associated with a headache, however an aura can precede the classic migraine headache.

An aura is often characterized as a shimmering of vision, colored lights like a kaleidoscope, and/or a jagged edged shrinking of peripheral vision. Symptoms may be caused by significant changes in blood flow to the upper body, but most often, simply the sudden experience of reflected or bright light. These and other symptoms then trigger harmless impulses on the surface of the brain causing the section of the brain, the visual cortex, to falsely observe odd, non-eye-related, visual sensations, or the aura. When an aura is experienced without a headache, it is referred to as an ophthalmic migraine. Ophthalmic migraines do not require treatment and generally have no associated cautions.

The migraine phenomena of headaches and/or auras, can also precipitated by caffeine, birth control pills, alcohol, hormonal fluctuations and stress. Most patients with classic migraine headaches should see an internist or neurologist to confirm the diagnosis. If these headaches occur frequently, treatment may be designed to suppress their development.

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