Ocular and visual migraines: What’s the difference?

Visual disturbance caused by an ocular migraine

An ocular migraine is a rare condition characterized by temporary vision loss or even temporary blindness in one eye. Ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye.

In an ocular migraine, vision in the affected eye generally returns to normal within an hour. Ocular migraines can be painless or they can occur along with (or following) a migraine headache.

Unfortunately, the term “ocular migraine” is often used to describe a much more common (and harmless) condition — called a visual migraine or migraine aura — characterized by temporary visual disturbances that generally disappear within 30 minutes.

Unlike ocular migraines, a visual migraine typically affects both eyes.

Now let’s take a closer look at ocular migraines and visual migraines:

Ocular migraine and visual migraine symptoms

Ocular migraine symptoms generally include a small blind spot that affects your central vision in one eye. This blind spot gets larger, making it impossible for you to drive safely or read with the affected eye.

In some cases, the entire visual field of one eye may be affected. Generally, the episode lasts less than an hour.

Visual migraine symptoms can vary, and may include:

  1. A flickering blind spot in the center or near the center of your field of view
  2. A wavy or zigzag ring of colored light surrounding a central blind spot
  3. A blind spot that slowly migrates across your visual field
Visual migraines often appear suddenly and may create the sensation of looking through a cracked window. The visual migraine aura usually moves across your field of view and disappears within 30 minutes.

 

The symptoms of a visual migraine typically affect both eyes and last 30 minutes or less. A migraine headache may occur shortly after the symptoms of a visual migraine subside or no headache may occur.

If you’re experiencing a blind spot or other visual disturbance and you’re not sure if it’s an ocular migraine or a visual migraine, then cover one eye at a time. If the visual disturbance is occurring in just one eye, it’s likely that it’s an ocular migraine. If it affects both eyes, it’s probably a visual migraine.

But don’t take chances. If you suddenly experience any sort of blind spot in your field of vision, call or consult your optometrist  immediately to determine if it’s harmless or possibly a sign of something more serious, such as a retinal detachment.

What causes ocular and visual migraines?

Ocular migraines are believed to have the same causes as migraine headaches.

Migraine headaches have a genetic basis, and some studies say that up to 70 percent of people who suffer from the disorder have a family history of migraine headaches.

According to the World Health Organization, migraine headaches appear to be triggered by activation of a mechanism deep in the brain, which releases inflammatory substances around nerves and blood vessels in the head and brain.

Imaging studies have revealed changes in blood flow to the brain during ocular migraines and migraine auras. But why this happens and what brings about the spontaneous resolution of ocular migraines and visual migraines remain unknown.

Common migraine “triggers” that can cause a person to have a migraine attack (including ocular and visual migraines) include certain foods, such as aged cheeses, caffeinated drinks, red wine, smoked meats, and chocolate.

Food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), and artificial sweeteners also can trigger migraines in some people.

Other potential migraine triggers include cigarette smoke, perfumes and other strong odors, glaring or flickering lights, lack of sleep and emotional stress.

Treatment and prevention

As already noted, visual disturbances caused by ocular migraines and visual migraines typically disappear within an hour or less without treatment.

If you are performing tasks that require clear vision, when an ocular migraine or visual migraine occurs, stop what you are doing and relax until your vision returns to normal.

If you’re driving, park on the side of the road and wait for the vision disturbances to completely pass.

If you experience visual disturbances that are accompanied by a migraine headache, see your family physician or a neurologist for evaluation of your migraine episodes.

Your doctor can advise you on the latest medicines for treating migraines, including medicines designed to prevent future attacks.

It’s also a good idea to keep a journal of your diet and activities just prior to your ocular migraine or migraine aura episodes to see if you can identify possible triggers that you can avoid in the future.

If your ocular migraines or migraine auras (visual migraines) appear to be stress-related, you might be able to reduce the frequency of your migraine attacks without medicine by simply:

  • Eating healthful meals on a regular basis
  • Avoiding common migraine triggers
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Trying stress-busters such as yoga and massage

EXPERIENCING VISUAL DISTURBANCES? Don’t take chances. Contact us to discover what’s causing the visual disturbances.

Source: www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/ocular-migraine.htm

by Gary Heiting, OD


Presbyopia: Symptoms, causes and treatment

Presbyopia is the normal loss of near focusing ability that occurs with age. Most people begin to notice the effects of presbyopia sometime after age 40, when they start having trouble seeing small print clearly — including text messages on their phone.

You can’t escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before. Even people who are short sighted will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual spectacles or contact lenses to correct distance vision.

The eye’s lens stiffens with age, so it is less able to focus when you view something up close.

 

Researchers estimate that nearly 2 billion people worldwide have presbyopia.

Though presbyopia is a normal change in our eyes as we age, it often is a significant and emotional event because it’s a sign of ageing that’s impossible to ignore and difficult to hide.

In parts of the world where there is no access to vision care, presbyopia is much more than an inconvenience — it’s a leading cause of vision impairment that reduces people’s quality of life and productivity.

Presbyopia symptoms

When you become presbyopic, you either have to hold your mobile phone and other objects and reading material (books, magazines, menus, labels, etc.) further away from your eyes to see them more clearly.

Unfortunately, when we move things further away from our eyes they get smaller in size, so this is only a temporary and partially successful solution to presbyopia.

If you can still see close objects pretty well, presbyopia can cause headaches, eye strain and visual fatigue that makes reading and other near vision tasks less comfortable and more tiring.

What causes presbyopia?

Presbyopia is an age-related process. It is a gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside your eye.

These age-related changes occur within the proteins in the lens, making the lens harder and less elastic over time. Age-related changes also take place in the muscle fibres surrounding the lens. With less elasticity, it gets difficult for the eyes to focus on close objects.

Presbyopia treatment

Presbyopia can be treated with spectacles (including reading glasses), contact lenses and vision surgery.

Spectacles

Spectacles with progressive lenses are the most popular solution for presbyopia for most people over age 40. These line-free multifocal lenses restore clear near vision and provide excellent vision at all distances.

Another presbyopia treatment option is spectacles with bifocal lenses, but bifocals provide a more limited range of vision for many people with presbyopia.

It’s also common for people with presbyopia to notice they are becoming more sensitive to light and glare due to ageing changes in their eyes. Photochromic lenses, which darken automatically in sunlight, are a good choice for this reason.

Reading glasses are another choice. Unlike bifocals and progressive lenses, which most people wear all day, reading glasses are worn only when needed to see close objects and small print more clearly.

If you wear contact lenses, your optician, can prescribe reading glasses that you wear while your contact lenses are in. You may purchase reading glasses at a retail shop, or you can get higher-quality versions prescribed by your optician.

Regardless which type of spectacles you choose to correct presbyopia, definitely consider lenses that include anti-reflective coating. Anti-reflective coating eliminates reflections that can be distracting and cause eye strain. It also helps reduce glare and increase visual clarity for night driving.

Contact lenses

People with presbyopia also can opt for multifocal contact lenses, available in gas permeable or soft lens materials.

Another type of contact lens correction for presbyopia is monovision, in which one eye wears a distance prescription, and the other wears a prescription for near vision. The brain learns to favour one eye or the other for different tasks.

While some people are delighted with this solution, others complain of reduced visual acuity and some loss of depth perception. Because the human eye changes as you grow older, your presbyopia glasses or contacts prescription will need to be increased over time as well. You can expect your optician to prescribe a stronger correction for near work as you need it.

Presbyopia surgery

If you don’t want to wear spectacles or contact lenses for presbyopia, a number of surgical options to treat presbyopia are available as well.

One presbyopia correction procedure that’s gaining popularity is implantation of a corneal inlay.

Typically implanted in the cornea of the eye that’s not your dominant eye, a corneal inlay increases depth of focus of the treated eye and reduces the need for reading glasses without significantly affecting the quality of your distance vision.

The first step to see if you are a good patient for presbyopia surgery is to have a comprehensive eye exam and a consultation with a refractive surgeon who specialises in the surgical correction of presbyopia.

Presbyopia is a part of growing older

Presbyopia is a normal part of the ageing process, and we’re all going to have to deal with it sometime after age 40. Whichever option you choose – spectacles, contact lenses or surgery – you’ll be able to easily read messages on your phone or a book to your granddaughter without any trouble.

If you are beginning to notice signs and symptoms of presbyopia, contact us for an eye exam and consultation regarding the best presbyopia treatment options for you.

Source: https://www.allaboutvision.com/en-gb/conditions/presbyopia/


Glaucoma: Symptoms, treatment and prevention

 

Glaucoma is often called the “silent thief of sight,” because most of its types typically cause no pain and produce no symptoms until noticeable vision loss occurs.

For this reason, glaucoma often progresses undetected until the optic nerve already has been irreversibly damaged.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of related eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain.

In most cases, glaucoma is associated with higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye — a condition called ocular hypertension. But it can also occur when intraocular pressure (IOP) is normal. If untreated or uncontrolled, glaucoma first causes peripheral vision loss and eventually can lead to blindness.

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide (behind cataracts).

Types of glaucoma

The two major categories of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma and closed angle glaucoma. The “angle” in both cases refers to the drainage angle inside the eye that controls the outflow of the watery fluid (aqueous) which is continually being produced inside the eye.

If the aqueous can access the drainage angle, the glaucoma is known as open angle glaucoma. If the drainage angle is blocked and the aqueous cannot reach it, the glaucoma is known as closed angle glaucoma.

Glaucoma symptoms

Most types of glaucoma typically cause no pain and produce no symptoms until noticeable vision loss occurs, but with acute angle-closure glaucoma, one experiences sudden symptoms like blurry vision, halos around lights, intense eye pain, nausea and vomiting.

If you have these symptoms, see an optician so steps can be taken to prevent permanent vision loss.

Diagnosis, screening and tests for glaucoma

During routine eye exams, a tonometer is used to measure your intraocular pressure, or IOP. Your eye typically is numbed with eye drops, and a small probe gently rests against your eye’s surface. Other tonometers send a puff of air onto your eye’s surface.

An abnormally high IOP reading indicates a problem with the amount of fluid (aqueous humour) in the eye. Either the eye is producing too much fluid, or it’s not draining properly.

Normally, IOP should be below 21 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) — a unit of measurement based on how much force is exerted within a certain defined area.

If your IOP is higher than 30 mmHg, your risk of vision loss from glaucoma is 40 times greater than someone with intraocular pressure of 15 mmHg or lower. This is why glaucoma treatments such as eye drops are designed to keep IOP low.

Other methods of monitoring glaucoma involve the use of sophisticated imaging technology to create baseline images and measurements of the eye’s optic nerve and internal structures.

Then, at specified intervals, additional images and measurements are taken to make sure no changes have occurred that might indicate progressive glaucoma damage.

Glaucoma treatments

Treatment for glaucoma can involve surgery, laser treatment or medication, depending on the severity. Eye drops with medication aimed at lowering IOP are usually tried first to control glaucoma.

Because glaucoma is often painless, people may become careless about strict use of eye drops that can control eye pressure and help to prevent permanent eye damage.

In fact, not complying to prescribed glaucoma medication program one of the major reasons for blindness caused by glaucoma.

If you find that the eye drops you are using for glaucoma are uncomfortable or inconvenient, never discontinue them without first consulting your optician about a possible alternative therapy.

Exercise may cut glaucoma risk

Can you reduce the glaucoma risk? According to a recent European study, exercise lessens the chance that some people will develop glaucoma because it helps improve blood flow in your body and your eyes.

In addition to regular exercise and an active lifestyle, you also can reduce your risk for glaucoma by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a varied and healthy diet.

Source:

allaboutvision.com/en-gb/conditions/glaucoma/