Can Tinted Sunglasses Offer Migraine Relief
A migraine headache is certainly painful. Migraine sufferers everywhere might be grateful to know that relief might be as simple as putting on a pair of sunglasses. While this isnít a cure for migraines and more research is needed, recent studies indicate that tinted glasses have the potential to help lessen the frequency and severity of migraine headaches for the millions of migraine sufferers worldwide.
What is a migraine?
Migraine headaches are a type of severe and often recurrent headache. The symptoms vary from person to person but can include throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, blurry vision, pain, nausea, vomiting and aura which can be flashes of light or flickering.
Migraines are very common. In the United States it is estimated that more than 30 million people have experienced migraine headaches. This means that statistically 1 in 4 households have at least 1 migraine sufferer. They can occur in all population groups but are most commonly seen in Caucasian women between the ages of 35 and 55.
Migraines symptoms can be severe and commonly interfere with everyday life. In fact more than 11 million migraine sufferers are considered to have moderate to severe levels of disability. Here are a few statistics to illustrate just how detrimental a migraine headache can be to daily life. It is estimated that 91% of people have to miss work or have limited functionality during a migraine. Migraines can be frequent and 5 million people in the U.S. experience at least one migraine headache a month. As many as 25% of migraine sufferers have at least one migraine per month and 24% of sufferers have been to the emergency room for migraine pain at least once.
What causes migraines?
Migraines are often activated by triggers. These triggers are environmental factors that can increase the risk of a migraine sufferer experiencing a migraine. They do not cause migraines but instead cause the body to undergo changes that may lead to a migraine in those that are already predisposed to the condition. Triggers can vary from person to person and a particular trigger may lead to a migraine at one time and not at another.
There are many common migraine triggers. Some include skipping meals, changes in sleep patterns or a disruption in a regular sleep schedule, stress, overexertion, eyestrain, certain foods such as chocolate, aspartame, MSG and cured meats, as well as menstruation and strong odors. There are visual triggers as well. Some people find that looking at certain patterns can lead to migraines and bright lights, glare and excessive sunlight can also trigger a migraine.
Visual stimuli and migraines
Visual triggers may be able to be reduced through the use of tinted glasses. Some studies have indicated that visual stimuli in some people can lead to increased and excessive brain activity in the visual cortex. This increased activity in some cases leads to a migraine headache. One study focused on 22 participants. Of these participants 11 people suffered from migraines and 11 did not. Each participant received specially designed lenses known as precision ophthmalic tints as well as gray and colored lenses for comparison. Each participant was placed in an MRI machine where they were shown various patterns specifically designed to induce visual stress and discomfort. All the patients noticed a difference in their comfort with all of the lenses, but experienced the greatest relief when wearing the precision ophthmalic lenses. The MRI machine also showed reduced brain activity in the visual cortex when using the lenses which could potentially reduce the occurrence of migraine headaches. The researchers stated that when patients wore the ophthmalic lenses they experienced a 70% reduction in discomfort.
The study led researchers to believe that eye protection can lead to a level of relief for migraine sufferers, especially those that have visual stimuli as a trigger. However, sunglasses arenít the best option. The precision lenses used in the study showed a significant advantage over the gray and colored lenses used in the study. Hopefully this research can lead to individualized lenses becoming more readily available to those with migraines. These lenses can be placed into regular glasses.
Sunglasses and migraines
While sunglasses may not offer the same level of results as the specially designed lenses in the study, research has shown that they may help migraine sufferers to reduce the frequency or severity of their migraine headaches. Plus sunglasses can protect your eyes and will reduce the risk of macular degeneration, certain eye cancers and other eye problems.
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