What is retinal migraine?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Rarely, patients develop retinal and optic nerve involvement during or before a migraine headache and present with visual disturbance, papilledema, and retinal hemorrhages affecting 1 eye. This variant is called retinal migraine or ocular migraine.

The International Headache Society criteria for retinal migraine [68] are at least 2 attacks of fully reversible, monocular visual phenomena, positive and/or negative (eg, scintillations, scotomata, or blindness). These are to be confirmed by examination during an attack or (after proper instruction) by the patient's drawing of a monocular field defect during an attack. In addition, migraine without aura must begin during the visual symptoms or follow them within 60 minutes.

The patient must have a normal ophthalmologic examination between attacks. Other causes of transient, monocular blindness must be excluded with appropriate investigations.

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