If you suffer from migraine headaches you know the painful debilitating effect they can have on your life. Migraine headaches are one of the most common problems seen in emergency departments and doctors’ offices. Migraines are believed to be due to changes in the brain and surrounding blood vessels. Your optic nerve and the nerve fiber layer of the retina are extensions of the brain. Until recently there were few studies to understand if and how the retina was affected by migraine headaches. Using a testing method we actually use in our office called Optical Coherence tomography (OCT), researchers evaluated whether there were structural changes and damage to the nerve fiber layer of patients who suffered from chronic migraines. The researchers reported findings in the Journal of Neurology that showed that chronic migraine suffers had significantly thinner nerve fiber layers and that degree to which they were thinned was inversely proportional to the frequency of their migraine headaches. That is, the more frequent the headaches, the greater the changes and damage to the retina. They believe that although migraine is an episodic and recurrent disease, its chronic nature might cause permanent structural abnormalities involving not only the brain, but also the retina. Thus, it is important to get help to control your migraines not just because of the pain and disability but to avoid compromising the retina.

If you or someone you know suffers from migraines or headaches of any type and has not a recent eye exam please call your local optometrist to schedule an appointment. If specialty care, treatment or cataract surgery is required, please ask to be referred to one of the physicians at Eyecare Medical Group, 53 Sewall Street, Portland, Maine 04102 at 888-374-2020,  or visit Eyecare Medical GroupGoogle+ or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup.