Optical migraines, also called vascular headaches, are incredibly painful. Those who suffer from optical migraines know that, unfortunately, the exact cause is still unknown. However, studies have suggested that the blood vessels found in the head are connected to optical migraines in some form. If you suffer from optical migraines, you may experience a number of different symptoms. Not everyone will experience the same type of symptoms, of course, and most will have several but not all.
Generally, optical migraines start in the morning, although this is not always the case. A person will suddenly start to experience a very intense pain on one side of their head or the other. This pain may stay on that side of the head, or it might spread across the head and face. While it may start out fairly weak, within an hour, the pain has reached its full severity. Often, it will last for hours or, in some severe cases, even days, unless some form of treatment is applied. However, many optical migraines end once the person falls asleep, which is often difficult due to the pain. Due to the incredible pain, many people also find themselves suffering from vomiting and nausea.
The other main symptom besides pain that accompanies optical migraines is visual disturbances. These disturbances can take several forms. Some people report seeing flashes of light, sparkles, zigzagging lightening bolts of bright colors, and spots. These visual hallucinations may occur both when the eyes are open and when they are closed. Some people also experience double vision or very blurred vision during an optical migraine.
In some very rare cases, people who suffer from optical migraines may actually only have to deal with the neurological disturbances that occur. Likewise, in a few rare cases, people can actually have permanent neurological damage following an optical migraine. This seems to be because of low blood flow or oxygenation to the brain.
Treatment for an optical migraine can take several forms. Many people find it’s helpful to lie in a dark, quiet room until their symptoms start to fade. This is especially important if they are trying to sleep to help relief the pain. It can also help to immediately take an over the counter pain killer like aspirin as soon as a person feels the optical migraine starting, although this does not always help and sometimes more powerful pain killers are necessary.
There are several powerful drugs that can be used to treat optical migraines. One is Cafergot, which is a combination of caffeine and ergotamine tartrate. However, while it may help ease the pain of an optical migraine, it can cause its own symptoms, including cramps, vomiting, and nausea. The drug Sumatriptan is more powerful and fast-acting, plus it does not have the side effects that Cafergot has. However, it must be injected by an autoinjection device.
Avoiding the causes of an optical migraine is perhaps the best way of treating the condition. However, as stated above, the exact cause of optical migraines is unknown. In fact, the trigger for one of these painful attacks seems to vary from person to person. Some factors that may affect optical migraines include alcohol, stress, hunger, premenstrual changes, and even some oral contraceptives. It’s also possible that eating certain foods, including milk, red wine, some cheese, and chocolate can also contribute to optical migraines. Exposure to direct sunlight or even exercise has also been known to trigger optical migraines. Determining the causes of your optical migraines and learning to avoid them is one of the best ways of dealing with this painful affliction, although sometimes it can be very difficult to discover the cause.