Migraine is a common neurological condition occurring in at least 15-20% of the population and in up to 50% of women. Classic migraine starts with visual symptoms which can appear as zig-zag lines, colored lights or flashes affecting one side of your vision for 10-30 minutes. Some people experience vision loss in one eye involving the upper or lower section, or the entire field. Although some people experience a headache on the same side following the visual aura, others only have the visual symptoms.
It is believed that during a migraine, changes in the neurotransmitter serotonin affect blood vessels in your brain, causing blood vessels to constrict. Certain foods may trigger a migraine, including chocolate, red wine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), caffeine, aspartame (Nutrasweet), alcohol, and nitrates found in cured meats, hot dogs, processed foods and aged cheese. Patients often attribute their migraine to stress and people who experience migraine often have a family history of headaches or prior history of motion sickness.
Treatment of an ocular migraine involves avoiding precipitating factors such as certain foods or environmental triggers. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications may reduce the severity of an acute attack. Drugs that constrict the blood vessels, including caffeine and ergotamines are sometimes used, and prescription medications are availabe that treat the chemical imbalance.
If migraine attacks are severe and are accompanied by double vision, lid droop or change in pupil size, a neurological evaluation may be necessary to rule out a stroke. For a complete eye examination call the KONOWAL VISION CENTER (239) 948-7555.