Visual aura: symptoms, causes and treatments

Redazione Emianopsia
The Editorial Staff of Emianopsia
3 minutes
The visual aura generates an impairment of the visual field and, generally, precedes a migraine attack.
Table of contents

    In what can be termed “the norm”, migraines arise in the hour after the disappearance of the aura. This regularity in the timing of the manifestation of symptoms allows the patient to recognize the event in time and proceed with the beginning of a therapy, to try and stop the headache.

    In quella che può essere definita “la norma”, l’emicrania insorge nell’ora successiva la scomparsa dell’aura. Questa regolarità nelle tempistiche di manifestazione dei sintomi permette al paziente di riconoscere per tempo l’evento e procedere con l’inizio di una terapia, nel tentativo di stroncare sul nascere il mal di testa.

    The symptoms

    When this type of problem occurs, the visual area is involved and affected. We can identify the following visual symptoms:

    • increased light sensitivity (photophobia)
    • zigzag lines that alter sight
    • blurred vision
    • scotomas (dark and colored spots that affect the view)
    • stripes
    • phosphates (flashes and flashes of light).

    Other symptoms that may present include:

    • vertigo
    • nausea
    • increased sensitivity to sound.

    The central field of vision is generally involved. This deficit compromises the patient’s ability to recognize faces or their ability to read. To give an idea of what the patient is going through, just imagine the feeling that each of us feels after staring at the sun: the stain that is generated is in fact very similar to the one displayed when a visual aura is manifested.

    There are also specific cases in which additional symptoms occur such as:

    • campimetry defects (hemianopsia);
    • image distortion (micropsia).

    Points of light, lines and other light effects also extend this problem to peripheral areas of the field of view. On average, this visual distortion lasts between 25 and 30 minutes.

    In the rarest cases of migraine with aura, these symptoms are accompanied by peculiar neurological symptoms such as:

    • paralysis of a part of the body (hemiplegic migraine)
    • disorders related to balance or consciousness (basic migraine).

    In this short video published by Top Doctors Italy we are introduced to migraine with aura.

    What is visual aura?


    The causes from which this particular disorder arises are not yet well known, but despite this uncertainty, certain elements can be identified that may play a major role in aggravating or even generating migraine with visual aura. Among these factors we can detect:

    • stress
    • hormonal imbalances
    • loud noises and odours
    • motor activity (if too intense)
    • incorrect posture
    • sudden climatic changes
    • bad quality of sleep.

    Types of headache with visual aura

    This issue, despite being generally associated with migraine, can also arise in cases of cluster headache (so called because the painful feelings occur in active periods, the so-called “bunches”, and may last for weeks or months, interspersed with remission periods) or tension headache (characterised by persistent neck pain).

    Ophthalmic migraine

    In this kind of headache, transient visual disturbances accompany the pain (that, in this case, affects only one side of the skull). In these cases the aura arises from the narrowing of those blood vessels that supply the eye and its structures.

    The diagnostic process

    The diagnosis passes first through family doctor who, after checking the presence of a visual aura, may require the specific advice of a neurologist or an ophthalmologist.

    Treatments for the visual aura

    The cure is aimed at preventing migraines through flame retardants. Magnesium also plays a leading role, a deficiency in fact can trigger platelet hyper aggregation and cortical diffusion of the “spreading depression”, all factors that can lead to generate the ideal conditions for a migraine attack.

    Another way to prevent this kind of problem is, of course, prevention. Among the things to avoid we find:

    • cigarette smoke
    • rooms not sufficiently ventilated
    • excessive alcohol consumption
    • consumption of foods that favour the onset of headaches (dairy products, eggs, citrus fruits, aged cheeses).

    A healthy lifestyle, in this case, is the main factor to avoid running into this issue.

    Related tags migraine
    Redazione Emianopsia
    The Editorial Staff of Emianopsia
    Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No derivatives

    You are free to reproduce this article but you must cite:, title and link.

    You may not use the material for commercial purposes or modify the article to create derivative works.

    Read the full Creative Commons license terms at this page.

    Share Share this article:
    Facebook LinkedIn Telegram Twitter WhatsApp

    You may also be interested in...

    Stroke: what happens to eyesight?
    Stroke: what happens to eyesight?

    This article investigates visual impairment caused by stroke, treatments for rehabilitation of hemianopia and visual neglect, risk factors, and prevention.