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Ophthalmic migraine


A migraine is a common disorder in young adults, mainly affecting women. Ophthalmic migraines are a type of migraine. They are accompanied by visual disturbances often described as "scintillating scotoma" that are manifested as a type of lightning flashes in the visual field.


The symptoms of an ophthalmic migraine are those of a regular migraine:
  • headaches of rapid onset, often affecting one side of the skull, fluctuating in intensity during the evolution of the crisis;
  • worsening of pain during physical effort;
  • occasionally, irritability to sound or light;
  • nausea and vomiting.

Certain visual signs occur before or during a migraine attack:
  • perception of scintillating scotoma, or flickering;
  • spots in vision.


The diagnosis of a migraine is based on the subjective signs reported by the patient, and the rate of their occurrence, with harsh attacks lasting from a few hours to three days, several times per month. An ophthalmic migraine will be diagnosed in the presence of at least two migraine attacks preceded by the visual signs described above. If symptoms are atypical, additional tests such as brain imaging, a CT scan or MRI, are performed.


Ophthalmic migraine treatment is given during crises, and combines analgesics with more specific drugs, such as derivatives of ergot or triptans. In case of excessive frequency of crises or a major impact on the patient's life, some molecules are given as a preventative measure, such as propranolol.


To prevent a migraine, avoid triggers such as stress, fatigue, smoking and certain foods, such as alcohol or chocolate.

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