Light Sensitivity Relief - Axon Optics

Light Sensitivity Relief

Are you sensitive to light?

Does light trigger painful migraines or headaches?  Is hiding in a dark room the only relief, or is something better out there?

Because not everyone shares this form of light discomfort, others may be inconsiderate to people with light sensitivity, or “photophobia”. People without this sensitivity cannot understand or imagine why anyone would find something as common as indoor lighting to be so offensive.  Moreover, there is clearly a reason why some of us are more sensitive to light. Science is only beginning to understand the brain pathways that underlie photophobia.

What we know about light sensitivity:

Anyone who looks at the sun feels pain. It’s a protective mechanism that we share with all animals. The pain keeps us from damaging our eyes by exposing them to bright light; much in the same way that pain keeps us from touching something that’s hot or sharp. In light sensitivity sufferers, this protective mechanism is juiced up such that exposure to normal levels of light is painful.

It’s clear that some forms of light are more annoying to photophobia and migraine sufferers than others. Non-incandescent indoor lighting, especially fluorescent lights, can be especially irritating. The reason some of us don’t like these artificial lights is because the spectrum of light emitted is very different from the light that’s given off by the sun.  You can see that the sun radiates the different colors of the spectrum in a relatively smooth curve that extends from red, to orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet:

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Incandescent lights, because they have a burning filament in them, also radiate a similar spectrum as the sun.  However, fluorescent lights, LEDs, and gas discharge lamps, can have a much more “spikey” pattern of emission:

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In the above example, this particular artificial light emits in blue, yellow, orange, and red bands of the visible spectrum, but many of the other wavelengths are missing, giving the light an “unnatural” appearance. With fluorescent lights and LEDs in particular, strong emission occurs in the violet or blue parts of the spectrum

Lighting manufacturers are working to improve the spectrum of fluorescent lights and LEDs to achieve a more pleasing color rendering index (CRI). When buying non-incandescent lighting, it may be better to choose bulbs with lower color temperatures (below 3000K), which are often confusingly called “warmer” colors.

Relief for Light Sensitivity:

Why not just wear sunglasses indoors? Most sunglasses make all colors of the spectrum dimmer, not just that portion of the spectrum that’s especially irritating. As a result, one must wear glasses that are fairly dark in order to get the desired effect. Unfortunately, by wearing dark glasses, even though one may feel better temporarily, once the glasses come off, the light sensitivity can become much worse! By wearing dark glasses, the eye “dark adapts” and becomes more sensitive to light. Think of what it’s like to go outside after being in a matinee for 2 hours. The afternoon light is blinding until your eyes re-adapt to the light.

A rose tint, called FL-41, was specifically engineered to help people with sensitivity to fluorescent light, partly due to the spectrum of emitted light and partly to the flickering fluorescent lights.

FL-41 is not a “cure”, it is only a treatment for light sensitivity, migraine, or blepharospasm, many sufferers have found it to be extremely helpful, enabling them to return to work, school, and church. Because it primarily blocks that portion of the visible spectrum that’s irritating, FL-41 tinted spectacles provide comfort without “dark-adapting” the eyes.

 

8 thoughts on “Light Sensitivity Relief

  1. W. Scott Stine, M.D. says:

    My wife, a long time migraine sufferer, who developed photosensitivity to flourescent lights a few years ago and then seemed to phase through that for a year or more, has in recent months had the problem of photosensitivity and photosensitivity triggered migraines return at a much worse and incapacitating level. We are very interested in getting FL-41 coating for her lenses to see if this will help.

      • W. Scott Stine, M.D. says:

        We got FL 41 coating for her glasses, but it did not provide the benefit we had hoped to see. I suspect it is because too much light was still getting into her eyes around the lenses. I’m hoping that tinted contact lenses might work better, and will try to get such locally, as it appears you do not have such available yet. WSS

        • Ben says:

          Scott, in the near future we will be adding full wraparound glasses which will hopefully address some of the issues of light getting around the lenses. Please stay tuned.

          • Ben says:

            Hi Mike, check out the “FL-41 fitover” section we just added. These frames block a significant amount of light and should address your needs.

  2. Cynthia L. Taylor, Ed.D. says:

    My light sensitivity has caused me to be off all screens, artificial lights ( LED), & driving for 21 months now. Even w/ a PhD in Low Vision,I personally have experienced heartache
    heartache w/ the migraine headaches. Please do help me to find out how to get your new tint w/ my prescription!!! May God bless you this Christmas by your Sharing hope for my life in this season of hope & good tidings of great joy for those of us in darkened sadness due to sight sensitivity.

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