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Ocular Migraines and anxiety

Community Member

Hi All,

Wondering if anyone experiences ocular migraines and has any info about them or ways to manage them? I have been having a lot lately and they are always accompanied with anxiety/panic attacks. They begin as a 'heat wave' like blurriness in my vison then progress to a 'kaleidoscope' type aura in my vison and then I lose vision in one eye. Episode lasts 15 -30 mins and vision returns to normal but I am left with difficulty forming a sentence, I can barely think of the words I want to say let alone say them. Strangely enough, I only ever get a dull head ache, not a painful one. Its very scary as it mimics stroke symptoms and I often have a panic attack along side the experience. Its making me very miserable and I find myself living in constant fear of it occurring. I have had blood work, optometrist visit and MRI to date. I would find it helpful to hear thoughts and experiences of anybody else who suffers with this.

4 Replies 4

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Calmseeker~

I would agree that ocular migraines are a most worrying symptom. I've had them on and off for a fair while and have had tests, as you have done, including an eye clinic and even, surprisingly enough, an optometrist. I've ended up with the conclusion they happen, there is nothing I can really do about them, and they are invariably temporary.

I do not get headaches at the same time, and no panic attacks either, however as I've had a large number of symptoms connected with my anxiety and other conditions over a very long period of time, it is not realy surprising I tend to take them in my stride.

To gain some background I've read a fair number of your posts, including those in:

Forums / Welcome and orientation / calmseeker
Forums / Treatments, health professionals and therapies / The search for the right GP!
Forums / Suicidal thoughts and self-harm / Intense reaction to bad news.
Forums / Anxiety / Physical illness or anxiety?

Plus your answers and support you have kindly to others in several other threads as well.

From these it is apparent you have many symptoms and at least a fair proportion are related to anxiety conditions, and can be made worse or more frequent due to extra stressful periods in your life

You also can find it difficult at times to find out if these symptoms have any physical basis, something I've had to wrestle with myself in hte past.

My ocular migraines are not quite the same as yours as they affect both eyes, and do not reach the stage of blindness, simply making the world blurry and hard to see, with reading out of hte question. The blurriness tends to be in patches that do move. It also helps account for my typos that I do not pick up.

As you only have vision degraded in one eye, continuing on to a complete failure to see from it, based upon what has been said to me by my ophthalmologist I would under normal circumstances strongly suggest you get the matter checked out thoroughly. Apparently there may be a difference between a condition affecting one eye and both -I'm no doctor so I'm merely parroting what I've been told.

As it happens you have already done this, I'd simply suggest visiting an ophthalmologist too, just to be on the safe side. If nothing else it may reduce your worry about the matter.

It may well be that you are in the same position as me, being reassured they are not serious, just inconvenient and scary, and are in some way related to stress.

Please let me know how you go


Community Member

Hi Croix,

I am grateful for your response, I notice a lot of people experience migraines but not so many of the ocular kind so it was interesting to hear your experiences. It was very kind of you to have a look at my other posts also, which may have given you some insight into what I am struggling with.

I guess I am have been sceptical about believing the ocular migraines are yet another anxiety symptom. In the past my anxiety has been panic attacks with some nausea and digestive issues but in the last few years so many more physical symptoms have cropped up and its been difficult to convince myself that its all anxiety.

I asked the optometrist if she believed it would be beneficial for me to visit an opthamologist. She said she didn't think so. She said the problem was not a visual one, she said my optic nerve is sending messages to the brain perfectly well and my vision is fine. She did say that a lot of her patients who suffer migraines have found it to be a hormonal issue. With that information, I will try to look into the hormonal component.

BUT, here we go with the anxiety again. I find it difficult to see any health professional. I have a real fear of any medical testing after a tumour finding, as you may have heard me mention in previous posts. Its a counter productive way of thinking I know but I cant help it. I am trying to rule out physical illness but struggling to even walk into a doctors appointment.

Wondering if your migraine episodes occur regularly or have weeks/months between them? Mine seems to come in clusters, as in one a week then a few a week sometime up to 3 a day. I have gone 6 months without one then the clusters come back again.

Grateful for your thoughts Croix


Community Member

Hi calmseeker,

It’s great to see you so proactive about getting the right care despite the anxiety you describe. Visiting health professionals is certainly a common trigger to anxiety for many people, particularly when you have had a difficult past experience such as a tumour finding. I am sorry that you are struggling with these migraines. They are are also common and difficult. Be kind to your self while you are going through one of these cluster periods you describe. Finding the root cause of migraines can be a journey as Croix has outlined. Exploring different avenues of support is a proactive way to get a range of opinion and eventually a plan towards relief and prevention.

You mentioned hormone imbalance and it would be an important avenue to explore as many people have symptoms like headache, poor sleep and worry and gain relief with some hormone regulation strategies.

Another strategy I would recommend is starting a health journal that has a daily record of symptoms, activity, pain and a rating of your worry. You could do this over a few weeks. It can really help when you attend appointments so health professionals gain a clear picture of what your going through.

Finding solutions to overcome your anxiety about seeing health professionals is important when you are facing health concerns. I wonder if you have tried any therapy like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)? There are a few programs that I can recommend where you don’t require a GP referral that you could try.

Mindspot is a free online program that helps people with worry and low mood. It combines an online program with some telephone support and you can read about it by going to www.mindspot.org.au

Another program that can really target worry is the Developed by Beyond Blue program called NewAccess. It is only available in some parts of Australia but has some really practical strategies that address anxiety. You can find out if it’s available in your area by going to this page https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/newaccess

Another starting point is speaking frankly to a GP about your worry. But I also understand that this is really tough for you.

Please reach out here anytime you need to as we are here and listening. If it helps to take things one step at a time, you can use the forum to work on what this looks like for you.

You are not alone.

Wishing you the best possible outcome,

Nurse Jenn

Thank you Nurse Jenn.

I am glad you mentioned that the Mindspot online program may be beneficial to me, as I have recently registered for one of their courses and will begin it soon. I am hoping to gain some tools to be able to manage the anxiety.

The ocular migraines would not be so scary to me if they were just the visual component, but the difficulty with speech that occurs with it is really scary. It would be great if I could manage the panic that comes when I have one of these episodes, I will try my very best to do so. I have to be brave and face my concerns regarding getting further testing done as a look into hormone levels could be so helpful for me. I will try my best with that also.

Very grateful for your response Nurse Jenn.