dealing with a migraine

Ocular Migraines: Why Do You Have Them?

You’re going about your day, and suddenly you see stars, flashes of light, or zig-zag lines in your vision. You may even experience temporary blindness in one eye. These are all symptoms of an ocular migraine, also known as a “visual migraine.” While not dangerous, these migraines can be very debilitating. But what causes them? Is there anything that you can do to treat them? Let’s take a closer look.

dealing with a migraine

What is an Ocular Migraine?

An ocular migraine is a migraine that causes visual symptoms without pain. These visual symptoms can include flashes of light, colorful patterns, zig-zag lines, and temporary blindness or “scotoma.” Ocular migraines usually last for less than 30 minutes and affect only one eye. However, it is possible to have symptoms in both eyes or migraines that last for longer periods. 

What Causes Ocular Migraines?

The cause of ocular migraines is not known, but they are believed to be caused by changes in blood flow to the retina or optic nerve. It’s also thought they may be linked to other conditions such as allergies, bright lights, stress, and lack of sleep. In some cases, ocular migraines may be hereditary.

The reasons one has one of these headaches are not the same in every case. For one person, the cause may be hot weather and dehydration. For another, the reason may be having one too many drinks with friends. So if you have them suddenly, check out your stay of mind, and if you have been doing anything out of the ordinary lately — that may be the reason.

Are Ocular Migraines Dangerous?

Ocular migraines are not dangerous and do not cause any permanent damage to the eyesight. However, they can be very debilitating and make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks. 

Sometimes an ocular migraine can appear the same as an aura. If you have an aura, it means you are about to have a regular migraine, in which case there will likely be a lot of pain, such as is associated with most migraines. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell the difference between the two.

With lights flashing in your visual field for no reason, you might think, “Am I having a stroke?” However, even though those who are susceptible to migraines are more likely to have a stroke, it doesn’t mean you are about to have one, so there is no immediate danger of stroke.


Ocular migraines are a type of migraine that affects vision without causing pain. These migraines are not dangerous but can be very debilitating. The exact cause of ocular migraines isn’t, but they are believed to be linked to changes in blood flow or other conditions such as allergies, stress, and lack of sleep. So, if they are happening to you all-of-a-sudden, there is no clear answer. 

Often people start having migraines for no apparent reason. Sometimes people can stop having them for no reason as well! 

Suppose you’re experiencing sudden visual symptoms such as flashes of light or zig-zag lines in your vision. In that case, you could be having an ocular migraine. These migraines are not dangerous but can be very debilitating. There is no cure for ocular migraines, but a few things you can do to manage the condition are:

  • wear sunglasses
  • take over-the-counter pain relievers
  • put cool compresses on the forehead or temples
  • take prescription medications
  • going to therapy
  • get enough sleep
  • eat a healthy diet
  • exercise regularly
  • meditate regularly

If you think you are experiencing an ocular migraine, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash