migraine aura symptoms visual aura


Migraine With Aura

About 10 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from migraines, and of those, about 20 percent also experience what’s known as a migraine with aura, unusual visual symptoms that typically occur anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours before a headache occurs.

The visual disturbances that occur in people who experience migraine with aura can be quite varied, and for those who aren’t aware of the cause of their symptoms, they can also be quite alarming. These visual symptoms often cause many of our customers to inquire about our migraine glasses.

This article outlines migraine with aura symptoms and causes. Many of our readers and customers experience debilitating migraine headaches involving visual triggers and visual symptoms, including patients who experience a phenomenon known as migraine with aura.

Videos of Migraine with Aura

Before jumping into the nuts and bolts, here are a few migraine with aura videos from YouTube that show people trying to explain what their migraine with aura feels like:

Mayo Clinic’s demonstration of what it’s like to have a migraine with aura.

A clip of what Aura looks like at the office.

Looking across a city plaza as a migraine begins.

Many more videos exist and we wrote an article on the genre of ‘migraine aura’ videos.

What are the Most Common Symptoms Associated with Migraine with Auras?

People who experience migraine headache with aura have the same symptoms experienced by any migraine sufferer, including the characteristic headache, which can occur on one or both sides of the head, and other symptoms like:

  • nausea
  • hypersensitivity to lights and sounds
  • moodiness
  • drowsiness

But in addition to these symptoms, they also experience a different set of symptoms that are restricted to their vision. The most common symptoms associated with migraine with auras include:

  • bright flashing lights
  • blind spots or temporary loss of a portion of the visual field
  • “zigzag” patterns (also called fortification spectra) or irregular areas of distorted vision

Most migraine with aura symptoms last no more than about 20 minutes, but some patients may have symptoms that persist throughout the headache phase that follows.

 visual symptoms from migraine aura


What Causes Migraine With Aura?

Although millions of women and men suffer from migraine with aura, including some who suffer chronic headaches on a regular basis, researchers are not sure what triggers these extremely painful episodes. However, most researchers do agree that two chemicals in the brain – serotonin and dopamine – play important roles in migraine development. Normally, these two chemicals work together to regulate mood and other functions of the brain. But researchers believe that in people who have migraine with aura, the chemicals work together to cause an overreaction that causes the blood vessels in the brain to dilate rapidly, resulting in an onrush of blood. In reaction, other chemicals are produced to help control the dilation of the vessels, causing vessels to contract. The dilation and contraction cycle in turn results in a throbbing and intensely painful headache.


axon migraine glasses form migraine aura


The Role of Light in Migraines With Aura

Many people who experience migraine with aura have photosensitivity or photophobia, an intense sensitivity to light. It’s tempting to think wearing sunglasses is “all it takes” to avoid photosensitivity – and in theory, that idea actually works; but the problem is, not all lenses are created equal when it comes to tackling migraine with aura. Common sunglasses – even the kind you buy with your prescription – aren’t designed to treat migraine with auras.

Lenses were developed in the 1980s after research into the effects of certain wavelengths of light on vision problems like migraines and other conditions associated with photophobia. In those early studies – and in many more studies since then – researchers discovered these lenses were extremely effective in reducing the number of migraines people experience, as well as the intensity of their symptoms.

Axon Optics is recognized as a leader selling lenses for those with migraine and photophobia.  Axon Optics developed a proprietary lens called SpectraShield FL-41 designed to block the light that has been implicated in aggravating migraine with aura and pain while letting in other light for clearer vision with a significantly reduced risk of migraine symptoms.

Woman wearing migraine glasses and smiling

Explore the Axon website to learn more about the Axon Optics migraine glasses, visit us on Facebook or ask your eye doctor if Axon Optics’ therapeutic lenses could help you reduce the incidence and severity of migraine with aura or other issues involving extreme sensitivity to light.


Migraine without Aura?

If you suffer from similar visual symptoms to aura migraines, but never get the headache that follows, learn more about ocular migraine (specifically, migraine aura without headacheand treatment options for them.