Unraveling the Mystery of Migraine Visual Symptoms: The Role of Retinal Blood Flow Changes

A recent groundbreaking study has revealed a significant connection between changes in blood flow in the retina and the visual symptoms experienced by some migraine patients. This discovery, published in the journal “Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain”, could be a pivotal step towards better understanding and treating migraines, especially for patients who experience visual disturbances.

Methodology and Findings

The research, conducted by UCLA Health researchers, utilized a non-invasive imaging technique called optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA). This method allowed for detailed visualization of changes in retinal blood vessels during and between migraine attacks. The study included 37 migraine patients with aura symptoms, 30 without aura symptoms, and 20 healthy individuals as a control group.

Key findings from the study are as follows:

  • Decreased Blood Flow: Both groups of migraine patients (with and without aura symptoms) exhibited a decrease in retinal blood flow during migraine attacks.
  • Difference in Aura Symptoms: Patients with aura symptoms showed lower blood flow in specific areas of the retina compared to those without aura symptoms.
  • Asymmetrical Blood Flow: The study also found that asymmetrical blood flow in the retinas correlated with the side of the head where patients experienced pain.

Implications of the Study

These findings are significant as they provide a potential observable marker for migraines, particularly in understanding the mechanisms behind visual symptoms like pain around the eye, sensitivity to light, blind spots, and visual blurring. This could lead to more effective clinical treatment for migraine patients, especially those with visual disturbances.


This research marks a significant advancement in migraine studies, offering new insights into the relationship between retinal blood flow and migraine visual symptoms. It opens up new avenues for diagnosing and treating migraines, potentially improving the quality of life for many sufferers worldwide.

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