Migraines with Photophobia…a Real Eyesore

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Do bright lights make your eyes squint painfully, and trigger headaches? Photophobia, or light sensitivity is a common symptom of migraines, but it can also result from a life-threatening injury. Listed are some causes of non-ocular photophobia, including migraine.

Migraines with Photophobia…a Real Eyesore- Migravent

What is photophobia?

First, what it’s not: photophobia isn’t an irrational fear of bright lights. People with hypersensitivity to UV glares, strobe lights, and bright white LEDs need to avoid exposure in order to prevent suffering intense eye pain, sharp headaches, dizziness, and nausea; these are all symptoms that occur with photophobia, a comorbid condition of migraines.

For many, photophobia becomes a disability. Bright fluorescent lighting in the workplace make it difficult to concentrate, as pounding migraine headaches, intense pain between the eyes, and stomach cramps worsen. Even driving a car can be challenging, as bright rays of sunlight can catch you off-guard and make you lose your focus, even for a moment.

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Worse, when photophobia is a constant sidekick of migraine disorder, it decreases your chances of catching life-threatening conditions that cause similar symptoms when exposed to bright white light.

Common causes of photophobia

Assuming that you don’t have vision problems, ultra-light sensitivity can have several causes, including the most common, which is migraine.

  • Migraines- A whopping 80% of migraine patients experience severe eye pain, headaches, and nausea when exposed to bluish-white lights, fluorescent bulbs, flickering images, and stark white backgrounds.
  • Blepharospasm- Involuntary facial twitching is the second-most common cause of light sensitivity, causing pain while watching television, driving, or reading. Stress may also trigger photophobia.
  • Depression- Although photophobia is not a psychological fear of lights, it does seem to become more severe during bouts of depression and anxiety.
  • Head injury- Sudden intense headaches and extreme sensitivity to light may occur following a severe head injury.
  • Meningitis- Brain inflammation caused by meningitis can produce symptoms similar to migraine, including crushing headaches and eye pain.
  • Pituitary tumors- Cancer in the pituitary gland may cause hypersensitivity to light, and can be ruled out with medical imaging.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage- a stroke from bleeding in the subarachnoid cavity of the brain is life threatening, and requires emergency care.

Photophobia treatment and prevention

To prevent head pain from photophobia, it’s important to use a multi-pronged approach to treatment. Most importantly, it’s crucial to address the underlying disorder, whether it is migraines, eye twitching, or depression.

Listed are some helpful tips for reducing sensitivity to bright lights.

  • Wear dark or rose-colored sunglasses, indoors and outside.
  • Look for FL-41 lenses guaranteed to block blue-green lights.
  • Seek FDA-approved safe incandescent light bulbs.
  • Try to increase your tolerance to light; resist the temptation to sit in total darkness.
  • Get enough sleep at night.
  • Take any medications or supplements that help to reduce migraine triggers, in addition to treating depression.
  • Get your eyes checked regularly.
  • Use eye drops to prevent dry eyes.

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