Migraine patients who wear tinted glasses made exclusively to prevent migraines can find relief from headache pain caused by light sensitivity and sharp striped images, according to a US News report.
Vertical lines and bright lights
One of the most debilitating symptoms of migraines is the ultra-sensitivity to light and patterns that comes along with the condition. Chronic migraines are a neurological disease which affect millions of Americans; typical migraine symptoms are pounding headaches, nausea,”auras,” blind spots and symptoms which mimic stroke. Some headache triggers you can easily bypass: chocolate, wine, gluten, stress (to an extent), lack of sleep, but others can be nearly impossible to avoid. (Good read: Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!)
Do you shudder at the thought of walking into a crowded, brightly lit supermarket? Does reading a striped bar code give you an instant headache? If so, you might benefit from a pair of custom migraine glasses.
Colored corrective glasses is nothing new
Tinted lenses were first used to treat dyslexia. Later, researchers discovered that the corrective glasses could also be used to help headache patients who suffer “migraines with aura.” In a WebMD article, Jie Huang, PhD explains that chronic migraine patients ”are highly susceptible to stressful visual stimuli,” and that the prescription colored lenses help by toning down activity in the brain’s visual cortex.
(Read about how tinted goggles help NBA player Dwyane Wade battle his migraines on the court.)
Migraine treatment glasses put to the test
- Dr. Huang tested the effects of tinted glasses on migraine patients.
- Included in the research were 11 chronic migraine sufferers, and 11 non-migraine patients.
- Research assistants developed “precision ophthalmic tints (POTs),” for each volunteer, along with a pair of gray-lensed glasses and non-precision colored glasses as control samples.
- All 22 participants agreed to go through an MRI machine and be exposed to various striped patterns which were known to trigger migraine headaches.
- Migraine patients reported that wearing tinted glasses minimized their discomfort by 40%, but that the precision lenses were most effective at reducing eye strain and preventing migraines, by 70%.
- Many chronic migraine headache sufferers are in the habit of wearing sunglasses to relieve migraine eye strain and ward off headaches. However, this research proves that wearing POTs can be even more effective at providing migraine relief than just wearing drugstore variety lenses.
- Besides geometric patterns, other visual stimuli which could trigger migraines include reading, watching television, using the internet and playing video games.
- Robert Daroff, MD, former president of the American Headache Society and professor at the Case Western University School of Medicine, warns that not all migraineurs should look to the prescription glasses as a cure for their headaches, stating that only a minority of migraine headaches are caused primarily from visual stimuli.
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