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Ocular migraine: When to seek helpBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ocular-migraine/AN01681
- With Mayo Clinic neurologist
Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.
Dr. Jerry Swanson is a board-certified neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He is also board certified in headache medicine and is a professor of neurology at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. He has a special interest in medical education.
Dr. Swanson, a Lacon, Ill., native, was appointed to the Mayo Clinic staff in 1982 and works in the Department of Neurology with more than 90 other physicians. He formerly chaired the department's Division of Headache and continues to work with headache subspecialists around the world. He has published and lectured widely on headache disorders. He also serves as assistant dean for assessment at Mayo Medical School.
"In a manner similar to the printing press, Internet technology enables the unprecedented ability to communicate with the global community about health information," Dr. Swanson says. "There is no doubt that the knowledgeable individual contributes greatly to his or her own health care, and now we can share information much more widely.
"There is much information already available about health care on the Internet. Unfortunately, much of it is not founded on sound principles. It is exciting to be a part of the web team and contribute to the creation of a reliable and timely health resource."
Dr. Swanson is the neurology editor for "Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and has reviewed articles for "Mayo Clinic Health Letter" and "Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource." He is also editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic on Headache" book, published in 2004. In 2008 the magazine Women's Health named him one of America's Top Doctors for Women. In 2011 he received the Mayo Medical School Dean's Recognition Award for his contributions to undergraduate medical education.
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Ocular migraine: When to seek help
What is an ocular migraine? Is it a sign of something serious?
from Jerry W. Swanson, M.D.
The term "ocular migraine" can be confusing. It's sometimes used to refer to two different conditions, one of which usually isn't cause for concern, and the other which might have more-serious complications.
Migraine aura involving your vision
In some cases, ocular migraine describes a migraine aura that involves your vision. Migraine auras include a variety of sensations — often visual, but which also may include other sensations, such as numbness — that precede or accompany a migraine. Aura can sometimes occur without an associated headache.
A migraine aura that affects your vision is common. Visual symptoms are short lasting. A migraine aura involving your vision will affect both eyes, and you may see:
- Flashes of light
- Zigzagging patterns
- Blind spots
- Shimmering spots or stars
These symptoms can temporarily interfere with certain activities such as reading or driving, but the condition usually isn't considered serious.
Sometimes, ocular migraine is used as a synonym for the medical term "retinal migraine." A retinal migraine is a rare condition occurring in a person who has experienced other symptoms of migraine. Retinal migraine involves repeated bouts of short-lasting, diminished vision or blindness. This may precede or accompany a headache.
A retinal migraine — unlike a migraine aura affecting vision — will affect only one eye, not both. However, most often, loss of vision in one eye isn't related to migraine. It's generally caused by some other more serious condition. So if you experience visual loss in one eye, be sure to see an eye specialist.Next question
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- Bajwa ZH, et al. Pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of migraine in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2011.
- Swanson JW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 8, 2011.
- Dafer RM, et al. Headache and the eye. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology. 2009;20:520.
- Bose S, et al. Neuro-ophthalmology. In: Yanoff M, ed., et al. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. Edinburgh, U.K.: Mosby Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/212799885-2/0/1869/0.html. Accessed June 3, 2011.
- Foroosan R. Visual dysfunction in migraine. International Ophthalmology Clinics. 2009;49:133.