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Visual problems with retinal migraine 

PAGE 40 VISUAL

Retinal migraine (ocular migraine) is an eye condition that causes brief attacks of blindness or visual problems like flashing lights in one eye.

These episodes can be frightening, but in most cases they’re harmless and shortlived, and eyesight goes back to normal afterwards. Some people get retinal migraine every few months, although the frequency can vary.

Retinal migraine is a separate condition and shouldn’t be confused with headache-type migraine or migraine with aura, which usually affects the vision of both eyes. If your eyesight suddenly deteriorates, make an emergency appointment to see an optician trained to recognise eye abnormalities and signs of eye disease (optometrist) or your GP. It’s important to see an optometrist or medical doctor urgently if you suddenly lose your eyesight, particularly if it occurs for the first time.

There are other more serious causes of sight loss that doctors will want to rule out. Retinal migraine is caused by the blood vessels to the eye suddenly narrowing (constricting), reducing the bloodflow to the eye. It may be triggered by stress, smoking, hormonal birth control pills, exercise, bending over, dehydration, low blood sugar or excessive heat Afterwards the blood vessels relax, bloodflow resumes and sight returns. Usually there are no abnormalities within the eye and permanent damage to the eye is rare.