Migraine Glasses - A Thorough Look (2019) - Axon Optics

We’ve all felt it at some time, bright light that hurts. But that’s not you. No, forget the garden variety light sensitivity.

Yours is the serious stuff.

You know the drill: bright lights, pain, the overwhelming need to find a dark room in which to retreat.

You’re not alone, but is that really any consolation?

You want solutions — something that will block the light enough to prevent a migraine attack without leaving you totally in the dark. So with dark glasses out, so what’s left?

Two words: Migraine glasses.

AP7A0902 EditMigraine glasses block certain wavelengths of light which may reduce or prevent light sensitivity and migraine. (Pictured: KULA frames by Axon Optics)

These specially tinted glasses are gaining popularity and getting rave reviews from users. What exactly are they though? How do they work? And the bigger question, DO they work?

We will answer those questions and more as we dive into the research behind migraine glasses, which includes more than 17 studies, reports, and articles. We’ll also look at the different lenses that claim to help with migraine, and perhaps most importantly, what actual users have to say about their effectiveness.

Here’s what we know about migraine glasses.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What are Migraine Glasses?

Development and Design: The Story of Migraine Glasses

Migraine Glasses Gain Traction

The Evolution of the FL-41 Tint and Axon’s Ongoing Role

Are Migraine Glasses Really Better than Regular Sunglasses Indoors?

How do Migraine Glasses Work?

If There is “Bad Light,” Shouldn’t My Migraine Glasses Block All of It?

Why Are There Many Vendors With Different Looking Migraine Glasses?

Could Glasses for Migraine Help Me With my Migraines?

What are Migraine Glasses Users Saying?

How Do I Use My Migraine Glasses? All day? Once a week?

Summary

Testimonials Back the Research

Several studies have shown that migraine glasses are effective in preventing light sensitive migraine. That in itself is impressive, but when you get real-person testimonials that back up those studies, that speaks volumes.

The bottom line is that real people who are using migraine glasses in their everyday lives are doing so with stellar results.

“I have struggled my whole life with fluorescent lights. I work in a hospital and fluorescent lights are everywhere,” Said Steven from Missouri. “I’ve been suffering with migraine symptoms about 3 days a week, every week.”

Pair of Axon Migraine Glasses in front of Fluorescent Lightbulb.Fluorescent lights are particularly troublesome for people with light sensitivity and migraine.

Steven didn’t know much about migraine glasses, and wasn’t so quick to blindly jump on the bandwagon. He said, “I was very skeptical because I had never heard of glasses to help migraines.”

After purchasing eyewear from Axon Optics and wearing them for about a month, Steven was thrilled to discover he’d found a new tool for his migraine toolbox, “These work amazingly for me. I have not had a single migraine since I have been wearing these, not one!”

And a new fan was born.

While the results vary for every individual, research and testimonials show that certain types of lenses can help reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks.

We’ll start with the basics.

What are Migraine Glasses?

In order to fully understand the function of migraine glasses, it is important to first understand the nature of migraines. Make no mistake, a migraine is much more than a headache. Migraines themselves are incredibly painful, but these attacks often come with other symptoms — such as light sensitivity — that can make them excruciating.

Treatment can be a challenge too, because everyone experiences their migraines in unique ways. The symptoms and triggers are as varied as the people who get them. However, there are a handful of triggers that are pretty consistent with the majority of migraineurs, and light sensitivity tops the list.

Since light sensitivity is reported as both a common symptom and a common trigger (especially when it comes to glare), it’s no surprise that a controlled study found that bright lights caused headaches in 29% of those surveyed, and aggravated headaches in 73% (along with other factors like skipping meals and stress).

Graph of Bright Lights Precipitating and Aggravating Migraine

To some extent, everyone is sensitive to light. For example, looking directly into the sun would be painful for anyone. But most people with migraine disease are hypersensitive to light. A sunny day that delights most of us can be excruciating for them, but even indoor lighting can hurt. It’s this degree of light sensitivity that sets them apart. In fact, more than 90% of people with migraine disease are sensitive to light (Source: Evans et al). And as you saw with Steven’s story above, ugly fluorescent lights can be particularly bothersome.

So, the natural conclusion here would be to block the light, right? Well, that’s easier said than done. For decades, migraineurs would retreat to darkened rooms or slip on dark sunglasses in order to ease their symptoms or keep migraines at bay. While these efforts seemed to work a little, they did not prove to be long term solutions.

And the research began.

The good news is that research shows only certain wavelengths of light are likely aggravate migraines (Source Katz B). So, it logically follows that finding a way to block those particular wavelengths should provide relief and even protection from light-triggered migraines.

Enter migraine glasses.

Migraine glasses filter the light that has been implicated in triggering and aggravating migraine attacks. They use a special coating on the lenses that is specifically designed to keep the “bad” light out and let the good light in. No substantially altered vision, no dark-adapted eyes, just light protection. Axon Optics migraine glasses have been shown to reduce the number of days with headache by 24%.  An incredible 90% of those who tried them experienced a decrease in migraine attacks.

Results from HIT6 Study Graphs - Migraine Days Reduced by 24%
Data collected by Axon Optics using the Headache Impact Test (HIT-6) regarding Spectrashield lenses and their impact on headache, light sensitivity, and migraine frequency and impact.

However, the glasses you get from Axon Optics today are quite different from the earlier generations of glasses for light sensitivity.

Development and Design: The Story of Migraine Glasses

The development  of migraine glasses spans several decades and entails a number of changes. The lenses you see today bear little resemblance to their predecessors. In fact, there are a number of different versions on the market today, some with significant variations. So how do you know which migraine glasses are the “right ones”?

Their history below provides some clues.

The idea of using special glasses to help people with light sensitivity issues is not a new one. Long ago doctors, researchers, and even patients realized that specialized glasses can help with light problems. However,  it wasn’t until researchers started tweaking the lens tint that things got very interesting.

Let’s retrace that path and explore the evolution of migraine glasses.

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University of Cambridge – It started with fluorescent lights

Late 1980 – Early 1990

Dr Arnold Wilkins

Some of the earliest work involving the use of eyeglasses for therapeutic use began in the late 1980s-early 1990 at Cambridge University.  Dr. Arnold Wilkins of Cambridge had a number of patients who complained that fluorescent lights caused them to experience eye-strain and headaches. In an effort to help them find some type of relief, he began developing a tint that would reduce what he hypothesized as the fluorescent light wavelengths that had the most rapid modulation from the lights.

After much trial and error, Dr. Wilkins and his team developed a tint they labeled FL-41, which had a brown-red color. The team tested the lens on some of Dr. Wilkins’ patients with impressive results. Many reported that the glasses provided much-needed relief, including one woman who had been ‘driven mad’ by fluorescent lighting all her life. She’d had to leave jobs because of her light sensitivity and the light-triggered migraine attacks that often followed. The lenses made it possible for her to remain in rooms lit with fluorescent lighting for several hours, without experiencing any photophobic symptoms.

Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre – tested on a cohort of children with migraine
1991

PeterGood

Neurophysiologist Dr.Peter Good read Wilkins’ research and saw and opportunity for additional applications of the FL-41 tint.  Dr Good worked with a group of kids with migraines at Birmingham hospital in England. Because fluorescent lights bothered them and often triggered their migraines, he wondered if the FL-41 tint might help them. He decided it was a question worth pursuing.

In the study led by Good, both FL-41 brown-red tinted and blue-tinted lenses were evaluated over a four-month period in a group of 20 children clinically diagnosed with migraines. After just one month of wear, these children reported a reduced headache frequency with both types of lenses. However, kids who wore the brown-red lenses continued to experience reduced migraines for the entire four-month study. The blue-tinted lens wearers did not.

At the end of four months, the migraine frequency in children wearing the brown-red tinted lenses had dropped from 6.2 per month to 1.6 per month. These results of this small study were published in a relatively small journal, and didn’t get much traction in the community.

University of Utah – Dr. – Digre Recommended it
Early 1990

digre kathleen.b

In the early 1990s, Dr. Kathleen Digre, a neuro-ophthalmologist and researcher at the University of Utah, frequently saw patients with migraine and light sensitivity issues.  She had reviewed the article detailing Dr. Good’s study and decided to recommend the FL-41 tint to some of her own patients. The results were impressive to say the least.

Due to the success her patients experienced, Dr. Digre continued to recommend the tint. While she did not publish anything about the relief her patients experienced when using the FL-41 tint, it did open the door for researchers to look a little harder at the role it could play in preventing light-triggered migraine. It is also worth noting that in 2018, Dr. Digre became the president of the American Headache Society.

University of Utah – Dr Katz Studies it
1998

bradley katz 1

In 1998 Dr. Bradley Katz moved from Iowa to Utah to practice and research at the University’s hospital. As a neuro-ophthalmologist, he also saw many people with photophobia and migraine. His colleague, Dr. Digre, shared her patients’ successes with the FL-41 tint and recommended that he offer it to his patients. He decided to try it and collect the data on an informal basis. The success his patients experienced was very similar to Dr. Digre’s results. In fact, some of his patients showed dramatic improvement.

Dr. Katz and his research team showed the tint worked, but they didn’t know WHY it worked.  “I didn’t think too much about it until 2002 when I read a research article published in Science, one of the most important publications in the scientific community,” says Dr. Katz. “The article explained that researchers had discovered a new type of cell in the eye.”

The article explained that when these cells (ipRGCs) were in the presence of light, they stimulated your internal clock which regulates your sleeping pattern (circadian process). These cells were super sensitive around blue-green light, or the 480 wavelength. Dr. Katz thought that these new cells might also contribute to photophobia.

“I ran a test on the Fl-41 lenses and it blocked 480,” says Dr.Katz. “So I put two and two together and saw that these aren’t just ‘magic glasses.” There is a physiological basis for them.”

However, not everyone was convinced. When Dr. Katz tried to share his findings, there was much skepticism among his colleagues. They were hesitant to get behind such a claim and scoffed at the idea of “magic glasses.” This attitude presented some roadblocks to further research, since the doctors and researchers were not quick to back such seemingly fanciful claims.

This did not deter Dr. Katz. He wanted to run some studies on glasses that block certain wavelengths of light, and explore the possibilities that presented. This would also allow migraine glasses to get firmer footing within the scientific community. Up to that point, the bulk of the “migraine glasses” success stories, although frequent, were still anecdotal.

University of Utah – Light Sensitivity Studies
Late 2000

bradley katz

In the late 2000s, Dr. Bradley Katz conducted several studies using an updated, lighter version of the tint with more of a rose hue as opposed to the earlier red-brown. He tested the tinted lenses on patients who had a known light sensitivity condition which causes involuntary squeezing of the eyes (called blepharospasm).

Dr. Katz tested these patients because he could receive survey feedback back and actually measure how much they blinked. This provided more concrete evidence of the lenses’ effectiveness, since objectively measuring migraine is difficult. The results were very positive. Most of the participants observed improvement while wearing the updated rose tint — significantly more than the gray-tinted lenses also used in the study. Furthermore, their involuntary eye movements significantly decreased.

However, it wasn’t just the color of the lens that made the glasses work. His analysis showed that the wavelengths played a vital role in their effectiveness. Dr. Katz tested a generic rose colored lens against the “updated rose FL-41” lens, and saw that the two were not the same. His updated FL-41 lens tested significantly better.

Harvard and Utah – Cells that aggravate migraine are identified (even in the blind)
2010

Dr. Rami Burstein

Around the same time, Dr. Kathleen Digre was working with Dr. Rami Burstein out of Harvard University. Through their research, they confirmed that these recently discovered ipRGC cells were a cause of migraine attacks. They accomplished this by showing that light caused pain and headaches in people who were blind (sounds a bit crazy, but it’s true).

Dr. Burstein believed that while the pain from headaches can incapacitate people with migraine, “it is their inability to endure light that most often disables them.”

Harvard University – Green Light
July 2016

Dr. Burstein found that exposing migraine sufferers to a narrow band of green light significantly reduced photophobia which, in turn, also reduced headache severity. He and his research team decided that the color that is the most comfortable is right between 480 and 590, which is a green hue. This provided further evidence backing Dr. Katz’s research conducted at around the same time, which proved migraineurs and those with light sensitivity should avoid 480 light.

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All other colors increased headache pain at all intensities, while soft or intermediate green light on average reduced pain. Noseda et al./Brain.

University of Utah – Making a better lens
2016

Steve blair

The studies conducted by Dr. Katz and Dr. Digre helped to solidify that specially-tinted lenses could be a viable treatment for migraine, but Dr. Katz wanted to see if he could improve the lenses even further.  “I knew that it worked,” he said. “I wanted to develop a lens that could block 480 better than the existing FL-41 tint, but without the lens color distortion and darkness.”  He teamed up with Dr. Steve Blair, a professor of engineering at the University of Utah, and developed an updated lens that did just that.

In 2016, Dr. Katz and Dr. Blair put this new lens to the test for 48 migraine and light sensitivity patients. On average, the participants reduced the impact of their light triggered migraine by wearing the new lens. However, something unexpected happened. Participants wore a second lens which was meant to be a placebo, but it helped as well!  Dr Katz and his team researched why what they had assumed to be a “sham” lens was also helpful.

Migraine Glasses Guide - Hit 6 Results for thin film from Hoggan et al study

There were statistically significant reductions in Headache Impact Test (HIT-6) scores when either the 480nm or 620nm lenses were worn.  The scores returned to normal when participants didn’t wear their lenses (called washout)

As he poured over the research, Dr. Katz uncovered the answer. The newly discovered cells reached maximum sensitivity at around 480 (the target of the new lens) and around 590 (which was close to the target of the placebo lens). So in order to reduce a person’s sensitivity to light and light-triggered migraine, the lens should be blocking around the 480 and 590 wavelengths. This is what made the green light (shown in the light-color graph above) so effective. It essentially filters out these wavelengths as light passes through it.

Mystery solved!

Dr. Katz and his University of Utah team patented an updated lens design targeting the 480 and 590 wavelengths, which is currently undergoing additional clinical studies. This “next generation” technology is being developed as a potential evolution of their lenses, so stay tuned to see what happens.

Until then, the cutting-edge technology used to develop the lighter, rose-tinted version of the FL-41 lenses still attenuates both the 480 and 590 wavelengths (unlike the original brown-red version). These lenses are available right now from Axon Optics.

Migraine Glasses Gain Traction

Migraine glasses are potentially like a dream come true for the migraineur who regularly battles painful light.

And for many migraineurs, the benefits are already becoming very real. One survey found that nearly  9 out of 10 people who tried migraine glasses to get relief from light-triggered migraine experienced fewer attacks, reduced pain during an episode, decreased light sensitivity, and improved eye comfort, especially from eye fatigue or eye strain.

So when did they finally become available on a large scale?

Axon Optics Opens for Business — 2011

In early 2011, Axon Optics launched its website to begin selling its own brand of precision-tinted lenses for people with migraine and light sensitivity. Over the past several years, Axon Optics has continued to improve and refine the lens. In fact, we are the ones who originally coined the term, “migraine glasses.”

Since those early days, the term “migraine glasses” has taken off. You can see in the Google chart below that the term “migraine glasses” has really gained popularity since our launch in 2011. Notice the spike in traffic in early 2013. That is when when Axon Optics received a great deal of press for a study it was performing around some new filtering technology for migraine glasses.

pasted image 0 9Interest over time: Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.

You can see here that the term “migraine glasses” has been receiving almost 4,000 searches a month since 2015. These are searches initiated in the United States alone. The graph only measures Google searches, and does not take into account other search engines. This is very strong evidence that shows just how popular migraine glasses have become.

pasted image 0 1Monthly searches on Google for keyword “Migraine Glasses” from April 2015 through March 2019.

Axon Optics has continued that forward momentum, with no plans of stopping anytime soon. We’ve designed a large selection of frames ranging from vintage styles, to trendy, to classic. We even have frames for kids with migraine. And since every frame comes with precision-tinted lenses for either indoor or outdoor wear, migraineurs can enjoy protection from light wherever they go.

The Evolution of the FL-41 Tint and Axon’s Ongoing Role

As the term FL-41 became more common and more people learned about it, it became a generic term without a concrete definition.

Over the years, the term FL-41 has lost specificity and has been tagged on to many different migraine lenses — some of which are ineffective. An early project at the University of Utah compared many different generic Fl-41 lenses. Their light transmissions and color vary greatly. Some are red, rust, purple, rose, orange, green, and so on.

pasted image 0Data from University of Utah project comparing various generic FL-41 lenses.

The original FL-41 that was used in the early studies, such as the one conducted by Dr. Good in 1991, looked like this. It was used to combat fluorescent lighting. The FL-41 used in the 1991 study is very dark, and doesn’t block as much around the 590. The tint was developed to block certain wavelengths from fluorescent light, but now we know so much more.

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On the surface, wearing dark glasses may seem like a good idea when you are trying to guard against light sensitivity, but don’t be fooled. Wearing dark glasses can actually exacerbate your photophobia issues.

The original FL-41 lenses that were used to help patients deal with fluorescent light blocked 90% of the light in 400 and 550, and about 40% around 590. In other words, they were dark — especially to be wearing indoors.

Recent research shows that totally eliminating migraine triggers may actually be a bad idea, especially when it comes to blocking light. Why? Because avoiding migraine triggers has a rather high probability of making people more sensitive to those triggers. In other words, when you dramatically restrict the light in your environment, such as wearing super dark glasses, you may actually be setting yourself up to increase your light sensitivity.

The authors of this research suggest that exposing yourself to small doses of triggers and learning to cope with them may be better than total avoidance. The Axon tint is aligned with this research. Our migraine glasses allow exposure to small amounts of 480 and 590 (we don’t block it entirely), which allows you to continue to function while still getting relief.

It’s simple, really. So many migraineurs put their entire lives on hold in order to avoid their triggers. But thanks to the availability of migraine glasses, you don’t have to live like that just because you have light-triggered migraine. In other words, you can filter out the offending light without living in the dark.

Spectrashield Lens: The Axon Optics lens has come a long way since the brown-red that Dr. Wilkins developed to help his light-sensitive patients better tolerate fluorescent lighting. Our migraine glasses feature the most current migraine lens available today. Our tint lets the most good light in. It is also the lightest lens, and a pleasing color that is easy on the eyes.

Axon Optics Spectrashield lens on top of box

When you are dealing with multiple vendors, it’s a mixed bag. There are a lot of different migraine glasses out there in all different colors. The truth is, with no real regulation you never really know what you are going to get from other vendors. That so-called “great deal” may not be so great after all.  That’s one of the reasons that we call our lens Axon Spectrashield. It differentiates our lens from other confusing variations that are currently available. When you see Spectrashield, you know you can trust the science supporting it and the company behind it – Axon Optics. That’s how you know which migraine glasses are the right ones — because they’re backed by studies and solid research.

Bottom line: In terms of living your life and managing your condition, we believe the research tell us it’s better to wear the rose-colored Axon Spectrashield lens and stay at work, school, church, wherever you go — than to stay in a dark room and avoid your normal activities.

There are so many variations of migraine glasses out there, that it can be confusing. We get that. But when you choose Axon’s FL-41 tint, you can know without a doubt that it’s been rigorously tested, honed, and perfected. You can see the science behind it right on our website. What’s more, you can read testimonials by satisfied Axon customers like these:

“Best indoor FL41 I’ve tried

I suffered a severe concussion four years ago and have had terrible daily migraines and intense light sensitivity – especially to fluorescent lights -ever since. I have tried multiple brands of FL41 glasses. So far, these are the best made comfortable, effective and helpful in indoor lighting situations of the 3 brands I’ve tried. (I also really like how they look on me) I am going to have a pair made up with my prescription because I’m so happy.”

Elizabeth M.

“I had tried a pair of tinted glasses for migraines

I have severe chronic migraines Light sensitivity is a big problem for me. I found these glasses and they have been a big help! I got the send in your frame option so I picked out my frame—a frame I love that is really comfortable and lightweight. The special lenses are so much easier and more comfortable on my eyes on my bad migraine days. I even ordered another pair in another frame just yesterday. This will make my 3rd pair of Axon prescription glasses. I definitely recommend the send in your own frame option though! Thank you so much for these glasses. I had tried a pair of tinted glasses for migraines from my eye doctor and they just weren’t the same. They are the frames I am sending in to have the lenses switched out to your lenses. They are so much better! I will be using your glasses from now on!”

Brandon W.

Not all FL-41 lenses are created equal. Look for Spectrashield FL-41 lenses, only available at Axon Optics.

Are Migraine Glasses Really Better than Regular Sunglasses Indoors?

In a word, YES! Axon Optics’ migraine glasses are far better than wearing regular sunglasses indoors. This is not only because we believe our glasses are the best (which we do!), but there’s some very solid science behind that claim. As mentioned earlier,  wearing dark sunglasses for light sensitivity can make your condition worse by making your eyes even more sensitive to light. This is a phenomenon known as dark-adaptation.

anastasia vityukova 1325271 unsplashAvoid wearing dark glasses indoors because they may make your light sensitivity worse

Simply put, dark adaptation means that your eyes are naturally adjusted to a darkened environment and no longer have the ability to effectively adjust to well-lit environments. Dark adapted eyes can be irritated by normal or even low-level lighting, making it more and more difficult to emerge from that darkened room or take off your dark glasses.

Fortunately, this condition is reversible, but it’s better to avoid it in the first place.

Dark adaptation is one reason we’ve designed our glasses with different shades of tint for indoors and outdoors. The outdoor glasses are darker, of course. And the indoor glasses are lighter. So, if you want to wear Axon eyewear indoors and outdoors, tinting can be applied to separate pairs of glasses. That way you can have a dark pair for outdoor wear, and a lighter pair for indoor wear.

This is the most comfortable way to wear our tint – and more of our customers prefer it. Most people would not want to wear a sunglass frame in the office, or an indoor eyeglass frame in the sun. Many of our customers wear the “indoor” tint all the time while inside, but when they venture outside, they switch to glasses with our outdoor tint or even regular sunglasses.

It’s all about what works best for you.

There’s also another option if you don’t want to switch glasses every time you change environments. Our tinted Transitions® lenses can be used both indoors and outdoors — no switching glasses involved. The different tints are necessary for optimal relief and protection.

It should be noted that our outdoor tint is the most therapeutic. However, it would be too dark for most people to use indoors.

How do Migraine Glasses Work?

Light can be extremely uncomfortable for those with extreme light sensitivity, or photophobia. If you have this condition, light can be debilitating.

Conditionsok 400Photophobia, or sensitivity to light, is a very real medical condition that can lead to a number of health issues, including migraine.

As discussed earlier, migraine glasses have a special lens that blocks the wavelengths that are known to trigger light sensitivity symptoms, but allow other types of light to filter through. This reduces the wearer’s exposure to those wavelengths that are most likely to cause light-triggered symptoms, while allowing them to see clearly.

On the visible spectrum of light, the human eye responds to wavelengths that are from 380 to 740 nanometers. This is also where the pure colors (a single wavelength) reside. Certain colors that are unsaturated (purple, pink, etc.) don’t appear, because multiple wavelengths are required to create them.

The seven pure spectral colors are listed below. What has been determined through research is that the wavelengths around 480 and 590 tend to be the most problematic for people with photophobia.

  • Violet – 380-450 nm
  • Blue – 450-485 nm
  • Cyan – 485-500 nm
  • Green – 500-565 nm
  • Yellow – 565-590 nm
  • Orange – 590-625 nm
  • Red – 625-740 nm

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Image source: http://number-42.org/2016/02/26/welcome-to-near-perfect-virtual-reality/

However, migraine glasses also help prevent eye strain and headaches from digital device or computer use. The lens is a natural treatment for light sensitivity and migraine without causing any side effects like eye strain, blurry vision or headaches.

The role of migraine triggers and glasses for migraine: You already know that light can be a trigger for many migraineurs. Other triggers include stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, dehydration, and sound. The key to preventing migraine is to avoid hitting the migraine threshold. In other words, take a proactive approach, reducing your triggers and addressing attacks before they become full blown. There are several ways to accomplish this, but the best is a multi-faceted, strategic approach that incorporates determining your triggers, reducing them, and understanding the methods that your body responds to the best.

Screen Shot 2019 06 08 at 9.34.49 AMThe migraine threshold is the point where the triggers hit overload and the migraine begins.

Many people take a reactive approach with their migraines, meaning that they initiate damage control when the attack has already taken hold. However, the most effective strategy for migraine relief is prevention.

If you can take steps to prevent an attack from progressing or even occurring in the first place, you will have much better control over your migraine disease. Often, an attack will catch you off guard. So prevention is preferable, because once an attack starts it’s like a train that just keeps coming.

Prevention begins with identifying your triggers. Keeping a migraine diary is a good start. You can use it to track trends and pinpoint the things that may cause your migraine attacks. Once you know your triggers, you can begin to proactively manage them to prevent attacks.

If you’ve identified light as a trigger, migraine glasses may be a very good solution, as they’re designed to block the wavelengths of light most likely to cause a problem. To understand how this works, you need to first understand how the brain processes light. It begins when light enters the eye. There are two primary pathways that make up the optic nerve.

One pathway conducts the light and the other pathway conducts pain. Sometimes the pain pathway is more sensitive to stimulation as the light pathway processes light entering the eye.

There are a number of reasons that this can occur. Illness, dark adaptation, injury, genetic disorders, disease, and hereditary predisposition can all cause light sensitivity. Research shows that it is the optic nerve that is primarily responsible for transmitting signals that trigger a pain response. In fact, the ability to see is not even necessary for light to cause pain. Even the blind can have a sensitivity to light and experience light-triggered headaches.

Optic Nerve Has Multiple Pathways to the Brain The optic nerve has two pathways. One transmits light;  the other transmits pain. Filtering out the light wavelengths that trigger light sensitivity and migraine, you filter out the pain.

Migraine glasses filter light, thus reducing migraine symptoms. Blocking certain wavelengths of light may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks and even prevent them. That is the essential function of migraine glasses — to block those wavelengths so you can get relief.

If There is “Bad Light,” Shouldn’t My Migraine Glasses Block All of It?

It probably seems counterintuitive to have some exposure to your triggers. It may seem logical to avoid your triggers completely. This, however, could prove detrimental. As we learned earlier, completely avoiding triggers may cause a person to become MORE sensitive. Over time, you could find that you are retreating to a darkened room more and more. You may realize that you become even less tolerant of light.

Dr. Katz explains how this works, “The main point is that avoiding migraine triggers may make people more sensitive to those triggers.” He says, “These authors suggest that exposing yourself to small doses of triggers and learning to cope may be better than avoidance. I think it builds on what we’ve been saying all along: it’s better to wear the Axon glasses and go on with your life as normal, than to sit in a dark room and avoid everything. Our tint is designed to allow small amounts of 480 to bring relief without risking making you more sensitive.”

Several migraine studies have shown that completely avoiding triggers may cause a person to become more sensitive to them. Martin’s Trigger Avoidance Model of Headache (TAMH) suggests that instead of instructing migraine patients to avoid their migraine triggers, that doctors should instead be helping them learn to cope with the triggers.

Researchers have found that patients who undergo brief exposure to a migraine trigger results in that person experiencing an increased sensitivity to that trigger. On the other hand, patients who undergo longer periods of exposure to a migraine trigger experience a decreased sensitivity to the trigger.

Why Are There Many Vendors With Different Looking Migraine Glasses?

Which migraine glasses are the best? How is Axon Optics different?

If you do an internet search for “migraine glasses” you will see that there is no shortage of product offerings — or variances. It seems like everyone has their own version of migraine glasses, and each version is quite different.

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So what’s the story on all those other lenses? Let’s take a look.

  • Blue Light Blockers (Amber/Yellow Lenses) — Blue blockers are a popular lens that blocks blue light and are for general eye fatigue caused by blue light from digital screens. Amber or yellow lenses lack the research to support any claims that they may prevent migraine.

Blue blocker tints may make an environment appear brighter and may reduce eye fatigue, but they do not block the light spectrum shown to aggravate migraine and light sensitivity. Axon Optics lenses block a portion of the blue light wavelengths, but also the spectrum shown to aggravate migraine and light sensitivity.

  • Red Lenses — Red tinted contact lenses tested very well in one study. Of the 33 subjects with migraine, 31 experienced immediate relief after putting the contacts in. However, the tint was very dark which has a high potential to cause dark adaptation issues. Additionally, they were only given after a migraine attack had begun, so there is no evidence that they would actually prevent an attack. One of the researchers involved in the study admitted that red tint may not be the best option for treating migraine because other tints filter different or more wavelengths of light, which could work better to prevent migraine.
  • Blue Lenses — At least one study has found blue light to actually cause problems with photophobia in many patients.
  • Green Lenses — Studies have found that a narrow band of green light is less likely than other light wavelengths to exacerbate light sensitivity and migraine overall. It has also been shown to improve migraine and headache pain during an attack for some patients. The problem with these lenses, though, is that the lens would have to be extremely dark in order to allow that narrow band of green light to pass through. It is highly likely that this would cause dark adaptation issues.

Axon SpectraShield Lens: The Axon lens has been tested using clinically validated surveys and hundreds of human subjects. In our research we’ve found that around 90% of people who wore our migraine glasses experienced not only a decrease in their light sensitivity, but also a decrease in the frequency of their migraine attacks. Overall, subjects experienced an average of a 38% reduction in the impact of light sensitivity and a 24% decrease in migraine attacks.

  • Bad light vs good light: One key component of effective migraine glasses is the balance of light. The “bad” light should be filtered out, but you want to let as much good light through your indoor lenses as possible. Axon lenses let 20-70% more good light in than other varied generic lenses on the market. To track and verify the reduction in the number of migraine days, we used the clinically validated survey the HIT-6 before and 30 days after wearing our Axon glasses.
  • Lens Coatings: One of the most notable features that really sets Axon’s lenses apart is the lens coating. We apply more than ten premium coatings to each side of every lens. These coatings are designed to reduce glare, minimize smudges, and prevent scratches. If you went to your local optical shop you would pay around $100 to $150 for the coating alone. What’s more, our lens coating has less than a 0.8 reflectance. That is crazy low! 😲
  • Extras: When you order migraine glasses from Axon Optics, you will receive your glasses in a hard protective eyeglass case. You will also get a microfiber pouch and a 1 year warranty. All non-prescription frames have a 100% money back guarantee and a no-questions-asked return policy within 30 days.  Feel free to try them out.
  • Research: Our company was founded by a neuro-ophthalmologist, photonics researcher, and optical entrepreneur. Axon founder, Dr. Katz, has treated literally thousands of patients with light sensitivity and/or migraine. We use profits from Axon Optics to fund additional research for new products related to migraine and light sensitivity. This means that each pair of migraine glasses you buy from Axon, you are actually contributing to further research to develop products that bring relief to people who suffer from migraine and light sensitivity.

There are many different lens colors on the market, each claiming to be the best. To be fair, some do help in certain environments and with certain types of light. However, there is no other known lens tinting on the market that is as effective and that addresses so many different types of light triggers than the Axon SpectraShield FL-41 lens.

Could Glasses for Migraine Help Me With my Migraines?

Now for the big question. Could migraine glasses help relieve your migraine? When it comes down to it, that’s what you really want to know, right?

Consider this: More than 90% of people who have light sensitivity or light triggered migraine have found some relief with these glasses, the chances are very good that they will help you, too. However, we acknowledge that they don’t work for everyone. For those who fall into that 10%, we do have a return policy.

As you’ve seen here, just because a product claims to be an FL-41 lense, that doesn’t mean they are the updated lenses from Axon Optics that have done so well in studies. The term FL-41 gets tossed around a lot, but we’d recommend you don’t take a chance on lenses from unfamiliar sources without documented, published research. Only SpectraShield FL-41 lenses from Axon have the proven track record of light sensitivity and migraine relief.

While almost all the people who participated in our recent HIT 6 Survey reported that our FL-41 lenses reduced the impact of their migraine, the level and intensity did vary by person. We’ve seen people with migraine experience dramatic improvements (25 headache days a month to 3 days) a month, to others who had no decrease in headache days, but received a decrease in the overall impact of their migraine.

  Before After
0-8 headache days (Low Frequency Episodic Migraine) 34 64
9-14 headache days (High Frequency Episodic Migraine) 23 13
15-29 headache days (Chronic Migraine) 47 28
Daily 19 18
Total 123 123

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So, will migraine glasses help you? We believe there is an excellent chance they will. Chances are, you’ll soon be sending us your own review while you enjoy fewer migraine days and more time living your life.

What are Migraine Glasses Users Saying?

We could go on all day long about Axon Optics migraine glasses, but we thought it would be better to let our customers do the talking. More than 700 people have left reviews, with an average of about 4.3 out of 5 stars. Most of them rave about how well our migraine glasses work. Take a look and see for yourself.

“Worth the money

I’ve dealt with migraines over the last several years, and finally decided to try migraine glasses (I wanted to limit the severity/intensity of my migraines with a drug-free approach if at all possible), especially since I do experience sensitivity on a daily basis. When I first received the glasses, I was in the middle of a hormonal migraine, so they didn’t help at all. However, I decided to keep wearing them, and I do notice a difference in the amount of eye strain I experience when I’m using them versus not. All in all, they were worth the money…and I’ve even received a number of compliments on how nice they look!”

Christina R

“A great addition to the tool box

Most migraineurs have a toolbox to help prevent and treat their symptoms. The Jura glasses have been a great addition to mine. I work at a computer under fluorescent lights and commute on transit. These can all cause eye strain and increased migraine episodes. The Jura glasses reduce the stress and strain on my eyes and my nervous system. Love them, cherish them.”

Patrick J.

“A life saver

I would have never thought sunglasses can make such a difference. Light is a major trigger for me especially driving to work, and living in Phoenix where it is always sunny. I get triggered by chrome reflections and most lights and since I’ve been using these I have not had an optical trigger in 7 weeks! Couldn’t be happier. These stay in my car and are actually cute! They are smaller than the pictures make them appear and a dark lens others can’t tell you are wearing special glasses. Well worth every penny. Worked everywhere including the beach! I couldn’t be happier thank you Axon”

Margaret B

“You must buy them they are the best ever

I have been suffering with migraines almost every single day for 2 years. We came across this site and I’m so thankful we did. I have so much relief it’s like a muscle relaxer for your eyes. These glasses have given me my life back, I am able to go out and do more and I’m not in constant pain. It has taken my migraines from almost every day to about once or twice a week thus far. I highly recommend them to anyone who suffers with any kind of migraine. I love love love love love love love these. ❤️❤️❤️💞💞”

Emily N.

You can read more reviews on our review page.

How Do I Use My Migraine Glasses? All day? Once a week?

Every migraineur is different. You are unique. Your situation, environment, and the way you react are all uniquely yours. With that said, you need to find our own comfort level and what works best for you.

Some people wear their Axon Optics migraine glasses all the time. Others wear them only in situations where they feel light sensitivity — such as under fluorescent lights at work, or going into a store. There are as many user variances as there are users.

Our research shows that 35% of users wear their glasses all the time, and more than 60% wear them most of the time.

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We asked some of our customers how they wear their migraine glasses. Here are their responses:

  • “At work, 3 days a week, 12 hr shifts.”
  • “Every day when around triggering light types – fluorescent lights at work, watching tv, using a computer.”
  • “Working on sewing projects, reading, television.”
  • “Only at the gym & big box stores because of the bright lighting.”
  • “I wear them around fluorescent lights, if I start feeling pre-migraine symptoms such as nausea, during an attack.”
  • “I wear these amazing glasses throughout the day and night (basically any and every time I look at my phone, use my computer, or watch t.v.).”
  • “At work (40 hours/week) and around fluorescent lights (grocery shopping for example).”
  • “I wear them all the time. The only time I do not wear them is taking a shower and putting on makeup.”
  • “Anytime I am outside, especially around the water. I have worn them inside when I have a headache, and they are very very helpful. Big fan.”
  • “At work when working on my computer. In the evening some if my eyes feel fatigued. After exposure to fluorescent lights.”
  • “When I’m at class under fluorescent lighting, when I drive because they help cut down on the glare, and always when I’m watching tv or using my computer.”
  • “Only during an attack.”
  • “I wear them when I feel a headache coming on as well as when I know I will be in fluorescent lights. I also wear them while driving at night to cut the glare from oncoming headlights.”
  • “Only around fluorescent lights.”

We often get asked if there is an adjustment period when you first start wearing our glasses. Most of our customers do not experience any type of adjustment period with Axon eyewear — they simply feel immediate relief.

However, if you experience discomfort while wearing your migraine glasses at first, it may be a good idea to gradually work your way into wearing them full-time, or for long periods of time. On the first day, wear them for only one hour. On the second day, increase that to two hours. On the third day, try for three hours and so on, until you feel more comfortable with them. There are no known side effects from wearing the FL-41 lenses.

If you try our migraine glasses and you find that your discomfort does not go away, please return them to us. We offer a full refund or exchange credit for glasses returned in new condition, within 30 days of purchase.

Summary

Axon Optics migraine glasses with SpectraShield FL-41 lenses are the most current, updated version of the FL-41 lens tint and have the most scientific backing, including studies and reports.  They are a natural, effective, drug-free way to better manage your light sensitivity and light-triggered migraine.

Isn’t it time you stopped hiding in the dark? Step into the light with Axon Optics migraine glasses.

———

Resources

  • “6 Steps to Migraine Relief.” Axon Optics, www.axonoptics.com/migraine-relief/.
  • Axon Optics. “Are All FL-41 Migraine Relief Glasses Created Equal?” Axon Optics, 23 Apr. 2019, www.axonoptics.com/2018/12/are-all-fl-41-migraine-glasses-created-equal/.
  • Blackburn, Marcus K, et al. “FL-41 Tint Improves Blink Frequency, Light Sensitivity, and Functional Limitations in Patients with Benign Essential Blepharospasm.” Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2701948/.
  • Good, P A, et al. “The Use of Tinted Glasses in Childhood Migraine.” Headache, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 1991, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1960058.
  • Hattar, S, et al. “Melanopsin-Containing Retinal Ganglion Cells: Architecture, Projections, and Intrinsic Photosensitivity.” Science (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Feb. 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11834834.
  • Hoggan, Ryan N, et al. “Thin-Film Optical Notch Filter Spectacle Coatings for the Treatment of Migraine and Photophobia.” Journal of Clinical Neuroscience : Official Journal of the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26935748.
  • Martin. “Managing Headache Triggers: Think ‘Coping’ Not ‘Avoidance’ – PR Martin, 2010.” SAGE Journals, journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-2982.2009.01989.x.
  • Mayberry, Stephanie A. “Dark Glasses for Migraine: Separating Fact from Fiction.” Axon Optics, 13 May 2019, www.axonoptics.com/2019/05/dark-glasses-for-migraine/.
  • “Migraine Glasses.” Axon Optics, www.axonoptics.com/migraine-glasses/.
  • Mure, Ludovic S, et al. “Melanopsin Bistability: a Fly’s Eye Technology in the Human Retina.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 24 June 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19551136.
    Noseda, Rodrigo, et al. “Migraine Photophobia Originating in Cone-Driven Retinal Pathways.” Brain : a Journal of Neurology, Oxford University Press, July 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27190022.
  • Noseda, Rodrigo, et al. “Neural Mechanism for Hypothalamic-Mediated Autonomic Responses to Light during Migraine.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 11 July 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5514773/.
  • “Photophobia and Light Sensitivity Guide.” Axon Optics, www.axonoptics.com/photophobia-and-light-sensitivity/.
  • Pond, Meredith. “The Results Are In: Axon Optics Eyewear Reduces Headache Impact.” Axon Optics, 23 May 2019, www.axonoptics.com/2019/05/the-results-are-in-axon-optics-eyewear-reduces-headache-impact/.
  • Pond, Meredith. “You’re Not a Bear: Don’t Hibernate Due to Bright Lights & Headache – Axon Optics Bright Lights Headache.” Axon Optics, 19 Nov. 2018, www.axonoptics.com/2018/11/bright-lights-headache.
  • Pyzer, Ian, et al. “A Prospective Study Investigating the Effectiveness of a New Lens Filter (Migralens) in Reducing the Impact of Migraine.” Headache Care, vol. 2, no. 3, 2005, pp. 171–176., doi:10.1185/174234305×56596.
  • “Scientific Studies On Migraines, Light, And Glasses For Migraines.” Axon Optics, www.axonoptics.com/migraine-studies/.
  • “Support.” Choosing Your Migraine Glasses : Support, axonoptics.freshdesk.com/support/solutions/folders/22000161809.
  • Vincent AJ, Spierings EL, Messinger HB. A controlled study of visual symptoms and eye strain factors in chronic headache. Headache. 1989;29(8):523-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2793458 
  • “WO2012177296A1 – Apparatus and Methods for Reducing Frequency or Severity of Photophobic Responses or Modulating Circadian Cycles.” Google Patents, Google, patents.google.com/patent/WO2012177296A1.
  • Wilkins, A J, and P Wilkinson. “A Tint to Reduce Eye-Strain from Fluorescent Lighting? Preliminary Observations.” Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics : the Journal of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (Optometrists), U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1991, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2062542.

6 thoughts on “Migraine Glasses – A Thorough Look (2019)

  1. Annette Baker says:

    I got Axon cover glasses to wear over my two pair of generic FL-41 prescription lenses. May I send one pair to you to replace my progressive, prescription lenses? If that change helps a lot, I would send my other pair in to have the lenses replaced in the second pair. Incidentally, I had optic neuritis that progressed to optic atrophy & chronic migraines.

  2. Carla Pillar says:

    I have very strong lenses. I had my first Ocular migraine yesterday. Scared me . Do you use my prescription for these glasses? When I think back and my eyes were sensitive to light and I took Tylenol I am wondering if it was a migraine

    • Lori Glover says:

      We do accept prescription orders. However, I recommend trying our tint before placing a custom order. Axon Optics offers a 30 day return/purchase price refund policy so customers can test our product for a trial period. Whether you have perfect vision or need prescription lenses, we recommend first trying our non-prescription lenses in one of our frames to be sure the lens helps you before investing in a nonrefundable custom order. One week is the perfect amount of time to try out our lenses. Most customers know by then if they are effective.

      If you wear prescription glasses all of the time, I recommend the Cover Rx frame. All non-prescription Axon Optics frames have the 30 day return policy and are covered by a 1 year warranty. You can shop our glasses at http://www.axonoptics.com/product-category/migraine-glasses/

      You can find additional information, our full return policy, and our return form on our FAQ page at http://www.axonoptics.com/natural-migraine-relief-help-faq/

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