What are retinal migraines and what do you experience when you suffer from one of them

People who, unfortunately, suffer of migrainesThey know how bad it is with this disabling pain. Hammering in the head or temples, vomiting, glare and even sometimes tingling or sleeping body members. The first time you experience it is always traumatic, to the point that some people come to believe that they are suffering something more serious, like a stroke.

It has a strong genetic component and, unfortunately (again), although can be prevented, not cured. The cause is unknown, and if they are very followed, to the point that the patient cannot live a normal life, it is advisable to make some lifestyle changes that can help prevent them. Some of them are: avoid triggers, sleep well and exercise regularly, decrease the amount of caffeine or learn to manage stress.

Migraine (with or without aura)

But what are migraines really? The 'International Headache Society' defines it as a headache that results in attacks of 4-72 hours, unilateral, pulsatile, aggravated by routine physical activity. As it can produce photophobia, many people choose alleviate pain by resting in dark rooms. In general, many of them are premonitory, which means that patients are able to predict them over 12 hours before suffering the migraine attack. In this phase we find symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, yawns, muscle sensitivity or photophobia.

Retinal migraine occurs in one eye and not in both and is suffered by one in 200 people afflicted with this problem.

In addition, one in three migraine attacks is preceded by aura. The aura is defined as recurrent attacks (which may vary in time) of visual or sensory symptoms and that usually precede the headache. The most prevalent are visual disturbances, which are usually:

  • Flashes of light
  • Zigzagging patterns
  • Blind spots
  • Glowing dots or stars

Usually, a person afflicted with these symptoms (which sometimes come alone, without being accompanied by pain), look like this:

Retinal Migraine

What difference is there with a normal migraine? It is a condition that manifests people who have experienced other migraine symptoms. In retinal migraine, they occur brief and repeated episodes of decreased vision or blindness. These episodes may be prior to a headache or simultaneous. Unlike the migraine aura, the retinal affects only one eye, not both.

According to the journalist Daniel Lavelle In 'The Guardian', he has suffered three episodes of retinal migraine without headaches. "They affect one in 200 migraine sufferers, and usually occur when blood vessels contract in the back of the eye. They explained to me at the doctor that if you have a headache of these characteristics with aura, it is normal to continue seeing bright patterns when closing your eyes, however, in retinal patterns disappear when the eyelids are lowered. "

There is a stroke that can mimic the retinal migraine called 'fleeting amaurosis', so it is advisable to go to the ophthalmologist

What do you see? The truth is that each witness tells one thing. Lavelle talks about green and red spots, as if he had taken drugs or was experiencing a stroke. "I love irregular black and white patterns, on other occasions I see rainbow lines, they are quite beautiful, what happens is that you know the pain that will come next, "he says Michael Pidd, professor at Lancaster University.

Retinal migraines are not dangerousWell, like the aura, they are just an explanation of what will come. However, there is a type of stroke that can mimic the retinal migraine called 'fleeting amaurosis', which means a sudden visual disturbance, so It is advisable If you suddenly experience it, an ophthalmologist will check you.

As we said at the beginning, unfortunately there is no solution for migraines. Specialists recommend having a good routine, because migraine-susceptible brains are more sensitive to change. "Make sure, meet regular schedules," says Lavalle, "if for example you let much more time pass between meals you are more likely to end up suffering from a headache." In addition to tips like don't smoke or avoid caffeine, doctors can also prescribe painkillers to stop constriction of blood vessels.