Post Concussion Syndrome and Photophobia

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Post Concussion Syndrome and Photophobia

If you have ever had a head injury or concussion, you might feel like it placed you on a path to more frequent headaches or migraines. Maybe it seems like your trouble started with that injury long after you recovered from it. 

Even if you had never had a migraine before that event, perhaps you started suffering from them afterward. If you have felt that way, you may have been onto something. Recent research actually reveals a connection between concussions (or other head trauma) with headache and migraine disorders — not just immediately after the event, but long-term. 

Head Injuries & Worsening of Headache

Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute, said in a 2018 interview, “If you have the predisposition to migraine, which is a genetic disorder, you’re predisposed throughout your lifetime. A head injury is associated with the activation or worsening of that headache. Head injuries that are mild and moderate, not so much severe, are often more commonly associated with the activation or worsening of headache.”

So, if you’ve ever received a good bump on the head or concussion without major trauma, that event may be even more likely to cause a worsening of your headache condition, especially if you’re already prone to migraine. 

If this describes you, your doctor may have diagnosed you with post-concussion syndrome (PCS). The most common symptom of PCS is post-traumatic headaches (PTH), along with dizziness, insomnia, loss of focus, and you guessed it — light sensitivity (photophobia). 

PTH and Photophobia

Photophobia and its connection with migraine is under continual clinical study. Researchers at Cambridge University have found that, compared with control groups, people who suffer from PTH report more sensitivity to light. And of course, we already know that photophobia can trigger a migraine attack.

Since PTH and photophobia often occur together in people who have had a concussion or head injury, there could be a pathophysiological explanation. Science believes that photophobia is due to light sensitivity in retinal ganglion cells, which have pathways through the thalamus, optic nerve, and trigeminal nerve.

Clinical experience suggests that cortical damage resulting from head injury or concussion may be responsible for dysfunction in some or all of those 3 pathways. So as we continue to learn more about the established relationship between photophobia and migraine, the correlation between head injury and photophobia is also supported by research. This would seem to suggest a connection between PCS (post-concussion syndrome) and photophobia.


What This May Mean for You

Many of us have suffered a head injury at one time or another. If you experience more headaches or migraine attacks even long after such an injury, you might have photophobia brought on by PCS or post-concussion syndrome — even if you didn’t have it before. 

If this sounds like you, precision-tinted eyewear may help filter out the most offending types of light that could trigger that light sensitivity and bring on migraines. Talk to your doctor about your condition, and try Axon Optics’ migraine glasses. They could help you experience fewer headache days by reducing the effects of photophobia. 


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