Migraine headaches and migraine visual disorders are caused by changes in the blood vessels of the brain. In migraine disorders, these blood vessels suddenly constrict, severely limiting the blood supply to the brain. This causes a wide variety of symptoms including numbness, tingling and possible decreased strength in one or more extremities.
Visual complaints are usually a loss of a portion of the visual field or shimmering lights which may be obscuring vision and may be the only symptoms.
After the initial vascular constriction, there is a reflex dilation of blood vessels which stretches the vessel’s walls and increases a fluid causing localized swelling (edema). This is the major cause of the headache and nausea which may accompany migraine attacks.
Some patients with migraine disorders are able to detect the earliest symptoms. If so, there are several methods of attempting to abort such attacks. For some patients, the caffeine contained in one or two cups of black coffee plus two aspirins will be enough to stop the attack. For others, specific medications must be taken either at the first sign of an attack or on a regular preventive basis.