Researchers from the Byers Eye Institute at the Stanford University School of Medicine recently determined that a migraine diagnosis is associated with increased risk of many types of retinal artery occlusion (RAO). They noted that individuals who are diagnosed with migraine with aura are at an even higher risk of RAO.

To investigate the association between migraine and risk of RAO, central RAO (CRAO), branch RAO (BRAO) and other types of RAO, which includes transient and partial RAO, the study analyzed 418,965 patients with migraine and matched controls. Among the participants, 1,060 (0.25%) patients with migraine were subsequently diagnosed with RAO; whereas, only 335 (0.08%) patients without migraine were diagnosed with RAO.

Nevertheless, the hazard ratio (HR) for incident RAO in patients with migraine compared with those without migraine was 3.48. This association was consistent across all types of RAO, including CRAO (HR=1.62), BRAO (HR=2.09) and other types of RAO (HR=4.61).

The researchers found that patients with migraine with aura had a higher risk for incident RAO compared with those with migraine without aura (HR=1.58). This association remained consistent for BRAO (HR=1.43) and other types of RAO (HR=1.67); however, it was not statistically significant for CRAO (HR=1.18).

The study noted that significant risk factors for this association included older age, male sex, acute coronary syndrome, valvular disease, carotid disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, retinal vasculitis and/or inflammation and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Al-Moujahed, Tran EM, Azad A, et al. Risk of retinal artery occlusion in patients with migraine. Am J Ophthalmol. December 24, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].