It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Dr. Rahul Reddy. Click here to read more
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Dr. Rahul Reddy. Click here to read more Patient Portal Career Center (602) 242-4928

How Do I Differentiate Between a Retinal Tear and an Ocular Migraine?

Any sudden changes to the eyes or to your vision can be frightening. When vision is lost or distorted, partially or fully, seek immediate medical attention right away to protect your eyesight. Many eye conditions induce similar symptoms, but their diagnosis is different. Learning how to tell the difference can help you know what type of care and treatment to seek. Related to the retina, for example, signs of a retinal tear and an ocular migraine are strikingly similar, so how do I differentiate between a retinal tear and an ocular migraine?

A retinal tear occurs when the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye, begins to tear away from its position at the back of the eye. An ocular migraine, migraines with an aura, has an unknown cause but experts believe it can be linked to either spasms in the blood vessels of the retina or changes that spread across the nerve cells in the retina. In either case, the retina is vital to your vision because it is responsible for transmitting the images you see to the brain. When the retina is compromised, so is your vision. The main difference between a retinal tear and an ocular migraine is in the degree of long-term impact on your vision. Retinal tears can lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness and require medical intervention, usually with surgery, while ocular migraines do not cause damage to the eyes and usually resolve on their own. 

Retinal tears and ocular migraines both cause visual disturbances by way of flashes of light. Ocular migraines may have flashes of light, zigzag patterns, rainbow or shimmering spots, stars or blind spots in various sizes while retinal tears have flashes of light often accompanied by eye floaters. Ocular migraines may or may not have headache pain and the visual changes will last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. Ocular migraines can occur in one or both eyes while a retinal tear will only cause visual disturbance in the affected eye. Retinal tears and ocular migraines can be physically debilitating and if you are experiencing these symptoms, it is best to see a doctor right away. Should you be diagnosed with an ocular migraine versus a retinal tear, you will want to monitor lifestyle habits, eating and drinking habits, allergy effects and environmental factors if you have another ocular migraine as well as any symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or added sensitivity to sounds and light. 

To check the health of your retina, visit Associated Retina Consultants for a comprehensive eye exam. Our clinic offers world class eye care for the entire family. Schedule your appointment today by calling 602-242-4928 or book online at WEBSITE.