An ocular migraine is a type of headache accompanied by changes in vision. You may experience temporary vision loss or temporary blindness in one eye. It’s believed that ocular migraines are caused by reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina. Usually, the visual part of these headaches lasts one hour before things return to normal.
While scientists aren’t sure what causes changes in the nerves and blood vessels, many people report common triggers. Knowing your triggers is helpful because you can avoid them and hopefully decrease the frequency of ocular migraines. Below are the top ocular migraine triggers to watch for.
Hunger or Dehydration
Research continuously shows that skipping meals can trigger a migraine. Scientists believe it has something to do with blood glucose levels. When these levels drop, hormones are released to tell your brain that you’re hungry. These same hormones may increase blood pressure and tighten blood vessels in the body, triggering a headache.
Dehydration, too, has been linked to headaches because the brain shrinks and pulls away from the skull. Bottom line, make sure that you eat your meals regularly and keep yourself hydrated with water and other low-calorie drinks.
Certain Foods and Additives
When you do reach for something to eat or drink, make sure it’s healthy. You’ll want to avoid “trigger foods” that are known to cause headaches. These foods often contain high levels of tyramine, food additives like artificial sweeteners or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Here are the foods we recommend steering clear of:
- Processed meats
- Pickled foods
Lack of Sleep
Make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep every night. Research has linked sleep deprivation to a number of headache disorders – and it takes just six hours or less for them to occur. Stick to a schedule, create a restful environment, include physical activity in your days and avoid naps.
Migraine attacks can be triggered or worsened by light. If you feel an ocular migraine coming on, move to a quiet, dark room. If your headaches are becoming frequent, contact your ophthalmologist doctor and make lifestyle changes such as wearing the proper sunglasses, changing your light bulbs and decreasing blue light.
Lastly, certain smells and odors can trigger an ocular migraine. These tend to be harsh smells like cologne, perfume, smoke and scented candles. And, once the ocular migraine starts, you might be able to tolerate these smells even less. Doctors think these odors cause the blood vessels to swell and dilate, stimulating the nerve system and causing headaches.
By understanding your triggers, you can prevent ocular migraines from occurring. That said, if you’re experiencing these types of headaches, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. They can rule out other conditions that might be causing your symptoms.