Any migraine is a debilitating condition that is produced by neurological responses to certain triggers. With eye-related migraines, changes in blood flow cause visual disturbances. Headaches do not always accompany the condition which is why it’s called a painless migraine.
The good thing is that research has identified causal factors that exacerbate the condition. Even though they are painless, the resulting interference in the visual field can easily put you out of commission for a time. Listed here are the leading symptoms and causes as well as how to prevent ocular migraines.
Ocular Migraine Symptoms
The visual symptoms are sometimes the only identifiers that indicate a migraine is occurring. Here is an example that demonstrates the complexity of the condition:
- Your vision will become blurry and then will be partially lost.
- A blind spot in the center of your vision will begin small and grow.
- Bright, flickering lights or a shimmering zigzag line will appear inside the blind spot.
- The blind spot will begin in the center of your vision but may eventually move across your field of vision.
The symptoms will last up to 30 minutes. This type of migraine will cause no permanent damage either visual or to the brain. Additionally, there is no treatment.
As a result, individuals suffering from any unusual symptoms should consult an ophthalmologist because the sample symptoms mentioned could be associated with other, more serious conditions like a detached retina. The only treatment is prevention.
Following are a few triggers and how to prevent ocular migraines.
How to Prevent Ocular Migraines
1. Reduce Stress
Stress is directly linked to all kinds of health issues and can also serve as the trigger to an ocular migraine. Avoid stressful or emotionally depleting situations and activities. If you are a “must win” kind of person then avoid competitive sports and situations. If these situations are impossible to avoid then find something to laugh at everyday. In this case, laughter really is the best medicine.
2. Quit Smoking (Yet another Reason)
There’s been plenty of public relations messages about the reasons people should quit smoking but now a new one can be added. Smoking is one of the leading causes of ocular migraines. There are many programs available now in local community centers that are eager to help you figure out how to prevent ocular migraines and ensure you succeed.
3. Lower High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is part of your body’s warning system that tells you something is wrong and needs to be fixed. It is also a huge contributor to ocular migraines. You need to take the necessary steps to keep it under control by taking your blood pressure regularly, reporting it to your doctor and taking your medication as prescribed.
Additionally, changing to a heart-healthy diet, adding some light exercise like walking and spicing up meals with heart-healthy herbs will really help.
4. Switch out Hormonal Birth Control Pills
It has been found that hormonal birth control pills will trigger migraines in some people. It’s because most birth control options on the market today are estrogen heavy. For people with sensitivities, estrogen also increases the chance of stroke. There are alternative birth control pills available but you have to ask for them.
5. Don’t Push Yourself While Exercising
When exercising, it’s not uncommon for people to push themselves. Those prone to ocular migraines, however, will find that when pushing themselves too hard during a workout an episode may occur. That’s because additional blood is needed by working muscles. As the blood is diverted, arterial flow decreases in other parts of the body.
The blood vessels in the eye narrow and discs change which negatively affects the vision. That means you don’t have to stop exercising, just be aware of how hard you’re pushing. The more blood muscles need in other parts of the body, the less that will be available for the eyes.
6. Be Aware When Bending Over
Ocular migraines are frequently associated with head injuries, especially those that resulted in a concussion and/or blowout fracture. Any change in pressure can trigger one of these migraines. In determining how to prevent ocular migraines with this trigger it’s important to use caution when bending down. That includes bending to pick something up off the floor or doing any kind of exercise that requires bending such as touching your toes.
Just remember that bending over increases the pressure in your head.
7. Temporarily Avoid Airplanes
Flying to a destination is often more time and cost efficient than driving. However, for those that suffer from ocular migraines it may be the best practice to avoid it until the migraines are brought under control. Commercial aircraft cabin pressure is not maintained at the same pressure as sea level. Instead it is often held at around the 9,000′ altitude equivalent. With altitude comes a change in the PO2 in the human body.
On commercial flights that’s a drop of 30% compared to standing on the ground. The drop of PO2 leads to a drop in alveolar and arterial oxygen tension. The increased cabin pressure along with drops in key body functions results in dilated vessels in response to hypoxia and changes in intraocular pressure which will trigger an ocular migraine. In this case, how to prevent ocular migraines begins with not flying. Once the condition is under control then by all means step aboard that plane and have a great time.
8. Keep That Water Bottle Handy
One of the key triggers of ocular migraines is dehydration. It’s not uncommon for people to forget to drink enough fluids especially with their busy lives keeping their calendars filled. Dehydration can also be worse in harsher climates, during peak activity times and when dieting.
Thirst has little to do with how much you should be drinking in a day. However, drinking sufficient amounts of fluid is one of the easiest things to correct when trying to prevent ocular migraines from occurring. The golden rule is no less than 6-8 glasses of fluid every day.
9. Other Ocular Migraine Triggers
Despite the fact little is known about the condition and how to treat it, several other possible triggers have been identified through research. Here are a few more ways you should investigate when trying to find out how to prevent ocular migraines:
- Working at the computer for too long
- Eating smoked meats, items with cheese, chocolate, red wine, caffeinated drinks, etc.
- Watching too much television
- Reading for extended periods without a break
- Any activity that requires intense and long-term focus
- Low blood sugar
- Excessive heat
There are many other triggers. The best way to deal with the condition is to take time to thoroughly research the subject then begin eliminating potential causes. When ocular migraines quit occurring then you know you’ve found the right trigger. Just remember that the more you know about how to prevent ocular migraines the easier it will be to deal with the problem.
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