Blood flow changes in eyes may influence visual symptoms of migraine

New Delhi: Changes in blood flow in the retina of the eye could explain why some migraine patients experience visual symptoms, a study has found.

The retina is the innermost, light-sensitive layer of tissue of the eye of most vertebrates and some mollusks.

The findings, published in the journal Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, could represent a long-sought observable marker for migraines that doctors can use to aid in the clinical treatment of the condition.

UCLA Health researchers used a non-invasive imaging technique, known as optical coherence tomography angiography, or OCTA, to visualize changes in the retinal blood vessels of migraine patients both during and between migraine attacks. The imaging was performed on 37 migraine patients with aura symptoms, 30 migraine patients without aura symptoms and 20 healthy patients for a control group.

Researchers found that blood flow decreases in the retina during migraine attacks for both migraine patients with and without aura symptoms. However, patients with aura symptoms were found to have lower blood flow in certain areas of the retina compared to patients without aura symptoms. Additionally, asymmetrical blood flow in the retinas was also correlated with which side of the head migraine patients experienced pain.

The findings could indicate why some patients experience visual symptoms and may represent a biomarker for migraine attacks.