Migraine: Study Links Retinal Blood Flow to Aura and Pain

Migraine: Study Links Retinal Blood Flow to Aura and Pain – Ever wonder why some migraines come with dazzling lights or blind spots? Migraine symptoms have been linked to changes in retinal blood flow. Research has shown that blood flow decreases in the retina during migraine attacks, and patients with aura symptoms were found to have lower blood flow in certain areas of the retina compared to patients without aura symptoms.

Retinal migraines are thought to occur when the blood vessels in the eye suddenly narrow, restricting blood flow, which can cause temporary vision loss in one eye and other eye symptoms.

Possible triggers for retinal migraines include stress, smoking, high blood pressure, hormonal birth control pills, exercise, bending over, high altitude, dehydration, low blood sugar, and heat.

It’s important to note that retinal migraine shouldn’t be confused with headache-type migraine or migraine with aura, which usually affects the vision of both eyes.

The symptoms of retinal migraine may include partial or total loss of vision in one eye, which usually lasts 10 to 20 minutes before vision returns, and headaches that may occur before, during, or after the vision attack.

About the Research

A new study from UCLA Health suggests the answer might lie in your retinas. They found that changes in blood flow to this light-sensitive tissue could explain visual symptoms and even predict which side of your head will throb.

This research used a fancy eye imaging technique called OCTA to peek inside the retinas of migraine sufferers during and between attacks. They compared results to healthy folks and found that both types of migraineurs (aura and non-aura) had reduced blood flow, but aura folks had even less in specific areas. And get this – uneven blood flow even matched up with which side of the head ached!

This breakthrough could be a game-changer for migraine diagnosis and treatment. By measuring retinal blood flow, doctors might one day spot migraines early or even tailor treatments based on individual symptoms. So, for the millions battling these painful headaches, there’s a glimmer of hope in the back of their eyes.

What are the treatment options for retinal migraine

The treatment for retinal migraine is not standard and may vary by individual. However, some common treatment and management options include:

1. Medications:

  • Over-the-counter NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen during an episode.
  • Anti-nausea medication. Calcium channel blockers to lower blood pressure.
  • Anti-epileptic medications to prevent seizures.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants to change brain chemistry.

2. Preventive Therapies:

  • Daily low-dose aspirin.
  • Avoiding triggers such as stress, high blood pressure, smoking, contraceptive pills, high altitudes, and dehydration.

3. Lifestyle Changes:

  • Avoiding triggers like caffeine, alcohol, and smoking.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and regular meal times.
  • Staying well-hydrated.

4. Medical Consultation:

  • If initial treatments are ineffective, a neurologist may be consulted for further tests and treatment.

It’s important to note that traditional migraine treatments such as triptans and ergotamines are not usually recommended for retinal migraine, and certain medications should be avoided, especially if there is a risk of stroke.

Always consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

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