Eye Migraine: Causes, Symptoms and Where to Find Help

Many people suffer from eye migraine. It manifests itself by a restriction of the field of vision from the outside to the inside, by flashes of light, flickering and flickering. The symptoms are frightening, but usually disappear after a short time.

Many of those affected can do without medication and wait until the symptoms disappear on their own within 60 minutes. But what can be done about it acutely? In this article, you will learn what you can do as a sufferer, how ocular migraine manifests itself and what distinguishes it from other forms of migraine.

What is an Eye Migraine?

Eye migraine is a special form of migraine. Often, symptoms last only a few minutes.

Eye migraine is often used by affected individuals as a synonym for retinal/ocular migraine or ophthalmoplegic migraine. However, both terms have to be distinguished from each other because the backgrounds are different.

An ophthalmoplegic migraine generally occurs in both eyes. In contrast, retinal migraine tends to occur in just one eye. In the following we will go into more detail about the origin.

An eye migraine can occur in addition to the migraine-typical headache, but also alone. The attacks differ not only from time to time, but also from patient to patient. In general, many sufferers describe impairments of their visual field and flickering as well as flashes of light in front of the eye as symptoms.

Often these signs occur in combination or merge into each other. Flashes of light and flickering, for example, can complement each other and merge into a severe restriction of the visual field. Commonly described perceptual disturbances include:

  • Loss of visual field
  • Flashes of light
  • Flickering
  • Flickering
  • Seeing jagged lines
  • Restrictions of the visual field
  • Double vision

Accompanying symptoms may include pain in the form of headache, nausea, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. In the case of a very severe seizure, double vision also occur in addition to the usual accompanying symptoms.

As the symptoms do not always subside on their own after 60 minutes, an immediate visit to the ophthalmologist is necessary. The ophthalmologist can recognize a malposition of the eyes, dilated pupils and drooping eyelids.

Ocular / Retinal Migraine Explained

In retinal migraine with aura, the visual manifestations occur before the actual headache attack. Retinal migraine affects only the retina, i.e., the retina at the back of the eye. Unlike ocular migraine, however, retinal migraine affects only one eye.

The severity of these deficits varies from person to person. Some affected persons report a visual field restriction with dark surroundings, i.e. a perception as if with blinkers. Often, flicker scotomas also occur, i.e., restrictions of vision in which, however, “nothing” is perceived.

In a flicker scotoma, the loss is manifested in such a way that part of the visual field appears blurred or flickering. As with migraine aura, these scotomas may also migrate or change in course.

Flashes of light are also part of an eye migraine. These show up similar to when you look into a very bright lamp and the resulting bright spots subsequently no longer disappear from the field of vision.

The cause of retinal migraine is thought to be circulatory disturbances directly within the eye.

What is Ophthalmoplegic Migraine?

Ophthalmoplegic migraine refers to recurrent migraine-like headaches associated with paralysis of one or more ocular cranial nerves. Most commonly, the oculomotor nerve is affected. Due to the nerve problem, in addition to the headache, symptoms such as different sized pullen and double vision are also seen.

The headaches and vision problems often last for multiple days and unfortunately have an unexplained origin. For this reason, the treatment of this rare disease is often oriented to other forms of migraine.

What Triggers Eye Migraine?

A migraine can be triggered by a variety of factors. These include too little sleep, stress, diet (foods containing certain neurotransmitters, such as cheese and wine), and hormonal factors (due to the influence of estrogen, men are affected less often than women.

Visit Your Ophthalmologist and Neurologist if You Experience Eye Migraine

The diagnosis of a migraine is done in the first step by a neurologist. However, if eye symptoms occur (flashes of light, flickering scotoma, visual field loss), the eyes must also be examined by an ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist examines the whole eye, but especially the retina, because the symptoms mentioned may also be those of a retinal detachment, which would require immediate treatment (surgical reattachment of the detached retina).

What You Can Do to Prevent Eye Migraines?

The occurrence of eye migraine can be prevented to a certain extent by taking beta-blockers. Of course, this must be done in consultation with a doctor. In addition, attempts can be made to reduce the likelihood of a new migraine attack occurring by avoiding supposed triggering factors such as cheese, wine and chocolate, reducing stress and getting enough sleep.

Often a visible aura is also a predictor of an impending migraine. In such a case, a preventive medication could be taken in consultation with a doctor to prevent the pain.


An eye migraine can occur with or without precursors (aura), such as eye symptoms. Typically, a flicker occurs with a visual field loss, which lasts a maximum of 1h and is harmless. If a flicker lasts longer, the visual field loss often changes intensity. This must be clarified by an ophthalmologist, because it could also be a more serious cause, such as a detachment of the retina or a neurological problem, such as a stroke.

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