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What causes an ocular migraine?

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Quick Answer

The exact cause of an ocular migraine is unknown, reports WebMD. However, experts hypothesize that spasms in the blood vessels of the retina or changes traveling through the nerve cells to the retina may cause ocular migraines.

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The International Headache Society defines an ocular migraine as a headache that lasts four to 72 hours and is accompanied by vision problems in one eye. These problems can be flashing lights, blind spots or blindness. Ocular migraines specifically only affect one eye at a time, not one side of a person's vision. Migraines accompanied by flashing lights and blind spots are called retinal migraines with auras and afflict approximately 20 percent of migraine sufferers. To distinguish between them, WebMD suggests covering one eye to see if the vision problems remain.

There is no treatment specifically intended for an ocular migraine, according to WebMD. However, aspirin, beta-blockers, epilepsy drugs and tricyclic antidepressants may be prescribed by doctors.

Ocular migraines are rare, states WebMD, and affect one out of 200 people who suffer from standard migraines. They are also known as ophthalmic or monocular migraines. Symptoms of an ocular migraine can last anywhere between a few minutes to an hour, reports EyeHealthWeb.com. People who suffer from ocular migraines may also be at risk for permanent vision loss and should monitor their condition closely.

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