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What’s the difference between ocular migraines and migraines with aura?

Ocular migraines (also known as ophthalmic migraine or retinal migraine) and migraines with aura are actually two different types of migraines. They have many similarities which means they can be hard to tell apart. I’ve written this article with the aim to help you understand the main differences between the two.

Migraine with aura

An aura is a sensory phenomenon that may occur before a migraine. Only 1 out of 5 migraines start with an aura. Some people experience aura without a subsequent migraine; they’re having what’s called a silent migraine.

Visual auras may include symptoms such as flashing lights, blind spots, blindness, and affects both eyes.

Sensory auras often begin with numbness and tingling of the lips and tongue on one side of the face, spreading to involve the cheek and then gradually extending to involve the hand on that same side (source:

Aura symptoms tend to be dynamic, building in their intensity before receding and vanishing. The symptoms usually develop gradually over 5-20 minutes and last for less than 60 minutes (source:

Ocular migraine

Sometimes referred to as “retinal,” “ophthalmic” or “optical” migraines, ocular migraines cause temporary vision loss or blindness that occur in the absence of, along with or following, a migraine headache.

Ocular migraines trigger visual auras but not sensory auras. The symptoms are very similar to a migraine with auras, except that it only affects one eye.

Regardless of the type of migraine, it is important to visit your general practitioner as they are best qualified to help you start your journey and to find an accurate treatment plan that works for you.


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