So what exactly is the problem? The problem is that 'optical migraine' is not a standard term. That means that one doctor may mean one thing, and another doctor may mean something else. Though standards of treatment are being developed around the world for migraine treatment, those diagnosed with vague terms are being left out in the cold.
That's right, you may not be getting the best available treatment if you don't have a specific diagnosis. All migraine attacks are not created equal - they're often treated differently.
So what is an optical migraine? As I said, the term can mean different things. In my experience, the most common symptoms involve visual disturbances. Maybe you see flashing lights, zig zags, or you have blurred vision. This is usually in one eye. Sometimes there can even be a partial loss of eyesight.
This is called 'aura', and is common in migraine. However, unlike a 'typical' migraine, a headache never develops. A more standard term for this is Migraine Aura without Headache, or Typical Aura without Headache.
More often you'll experience the visual disturbances, and then a headache will developed. This is called simply Migraine with Aura. About 15-20% of migraineurs get aura symptoms before a headache.
These tend to be the most common types of migraine that may be diagnosed as optical migraine. However, if there are visual symptoms, there are other possibilities. It may be wise to get a second opinion, to make sure there is no eye disease involved. Left untreated, damage could be done to your eyes.
There is also danger of transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which is sometimes called a mini-stroke. If a TIA has occurred, you need to investigate treatment right away.
If you do have one of these types of migraine, treatment will be similar. Still, it may help to ask your doctor to be more specific using the classifications from the International Headache Society. There is a short version of the classifications which can be printed here. Bring these to your doctor and ask her about them.
Though it's important to talk to your doctor (and maybe even get a second opinion), you can find tools for understanding if your symptoms are migraine here.
Remember, you are responsible for your treatment. Make sure you're getting the best treatment possible by insisting on a specific, clear diagnosis. Your actions will not only help you, but others who come after you.