Can Anxiety Cause Ocular Migraines?

Migraines are some of the worst headaches that people can get. That throbbing pain that can range from a dull annoyance to overwhelming pressure, feels like they can completely immobilize someone in their tracks.

Can Anxiety Cause Ocular Migraines?

However, there are a ton of different kinds of migraines and similar headaches out there, many of them having their issues, symptoms and treatments that need to be considered.

One of the most overlooked types, but one of the most frustrating and painful to deal with, is ocular migraines.

What exactly causes them isn’t fully understood, but many people seem to report them starting during times of high anxiety or stress.

To understand whether there is a real link between these two issues, we have researched and compiled this guide with all the relevant facts that you could need to help you out.

Whether you’re personally suffering from ocular migraines or someone that you know is having trouble dealing with them, we have you covered! 

What Are Ocular Migraines?

So, before we start going into more detail, it’s worth getting everyone up to speed on what exactly an ocular migraine is. Not Everyone has experienced one, after all, or knew what they were experiencing when they did.

These types of migraines aren’t just throbbing headaches but are also accompanied by some kind of visual issue.

Usually, you will start seeing bright lights in one eye at the same time as you are experiencing headaches, (see also: How To Get Rid Of A Headache From Not Eating)or even losing sight in one or both of your eyes for a split second.

The visual issues don’t tend to last long, just a few seconds at most. But even this can be incredibly distressing, especially if you are in the middle of a task that requires as much vision on your part as possible, like driving.

Symptoms Of Ocular Migraines

Ocular migraines often have a list of other symptoms that you might experience before or alongside the loss of eyesight that they’re best known for.

Usually, the clearest sign that someone is experiencing an ocular migraine is that they will start seeing ‘auras’ around them. These will usually look similar to heatwave distortions, or dark spots in your vision.

There’s also a good chance that someone with an ocular migraine is feeling other symptoms, such as nausea, difficulty concentrating, and even some form of hearing loss for a time too.

Needless to say, this is a list of conditions and issues that you want to avoid!

Can Anxiety Affect Ocular Migraines?

So, let’s move on to the big question that people here probably clicked on this guide for: Can ocular migraines be caused by anxiety (see also: Can Anxiety Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?)and stress?

Well, the final answer is a little tricky to say. There are many ideas as to what causes ocular migraines to set in, and fewer solid answers, annoyingly.

What Causes An Ocular Migraine?

The only definitive answer that we have for the cause of ocular migraines is that the constriction of blood vessels around the brain during strong migraines affects the overall visual issues that ocular migraines have.

Now, what exactly causes those blood vessels to shrink is still being debated by scientists and health professionals.

However, stress has been known to affect the release of hormones like serotonin and dopamine in your brain which can affect how muscles and blood vessels behave, releasing tension or contracting is possible.

So, it certainly looks like a possibility. Stress and overall anxiety have been commonly linked causes (see also: Can Anxiety Cause Jaw Pain?)for ocular migraines, if not them affecting them for better or worse.

Other Causes For Ocular Migraines

Of course, with a field that is being studied as much as ocular migraines are, there are a few other theories that have been proposed by scientists. All of them relate to how blood vessels in and around the brain are affected.

  • Strong smells such as those given off by perfumes are a possibility.
  • Withdrawal from drugs such as caffeine and/or alcohol has also been linked to the effect that these contracting blood vessels have.
  • Bright or flickering lights could cause the blood vessels in and around the eyes to send signals back to the brain, triggering an ocular migraine.
  • Light conditions that are too low for normal functions have also been linked to 
  • Hormonal changes in the body can also cause ocular migraines.
  • Dehydration is another potential dietary cause for these kinds of migraines.
  • High or low altitude can also affect the brain in such a way that triggers an ocular migraine.

Diagnosing Ocular Migraines

Being a condition that cannot be observed outside advanced MRI machines, diagnosing ocular migraines can be pretty difficult, especially when they are relatively quick, and are pretty unpredictable.

Outside their initial symptoms that you experience a few minutes beforehand, at least.

The most important thing to do when trying to diagnose the cause is to rule out a detached retina as the cause, which can be a much more serious issue to have to deal with.

Fortunately, doctors and specialists can check for detached or torn retina tissue to rule this option out, so it can be confirmed or disproven quickly.

Treating Ocular Migraines

So, is there a way to currently treat ocular migraines?

Can Anxiety Cause Ocular Migraines?

Well, unfortunately, there currently isn’t, which can be disheartening to some people who have experienced them in the past.

However, as long as your doctor can rule out detached retinas as a cause for them, ocular migraines are a relatively minor nuisance. Yes, they can be a pain to deal with when they are affecting you, but they usually subside quickly.

And many of the causes for ocular migraines that we’ve covered have pretty simple solutions to them.

Managing stress better, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol consumption, and staying properly nourished and hydrated, are all simple steps that you can take to manage your health better, and reduce the risk and frequency of these issues

Final Notes

So, as you can see, ocular migraines are a nuisance to deal with, both because they can stop you in your tracks and their causes are hard to pin down.

Hopefully, this guide has made things at least a little more clear to you!

Clare McAfee
Latest posts by Clare McAfee (see all)
Scroll to Top