Also Known As: Retinal migraine, Ophthalmic migraine, Visual migraine, Ocular Migraine
Retinal migraine (also known as ophthalmic migraine, visual migraine and ocular migraine) is a retinal disease often accompanied by migraine headache and typically affects only one eye. It is caused by an infarct or vascular spasm in or behind the affected eye.
The terms "retinal migraine" and "ocular migraine" are often confused with an abnormal condition in the brain (cortical spreading depression) that may cause similar symptoms such as scintillating scotoma affecting vision in both eyes, also associated with migraine headaches.
Retinal migraine is associated with transient monocular visual loss (scotoma) in one eye lasting less than one hour. During some episodes, the visual loss may occur with no headache and at other times throbbing headache on the same side of the head as the visual loss may occur, accompanied by severe light sensitivity and/or nausea. Visual loss tends to affect the entire monocular visual field of one eye, not both eyes. After each episode, normal vision returns.
It may be difficult to read and dangerous to drive a vehicle while retinal migraine symptoms are present.
Retinal migraine is a different disease than scintillating scotoma, which is a visual anomaly caused by spreading depression in the occipital cortex, at the back of the brain, not in the eyes nor any component thereof. Unlike retinal migraine, such a scintillating aura affects vision from both eyes, and sufferers may see flashes of light; zigzagging patterns; blind spots; and shimmering spots or stars. In contrast, retinal migraine involves repeated bouts of temporary diminished vision or blindness in one eye.[dead link]