Study Shows Light Triggers Migraine Pain Even in Blind Subjects

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Study Shows Light Triggers Migraine Pain Even in Blind Subjects

Optic Nerve Plays a Major Role in Migraine Pain

At Axon Optics, we conduct clinical studies and keep an eye on studies regarding light and migraine.  The results of this particular study are rather striking when you see it for the first time – light can trigger migraine pain even in blind subjects.  Part of the study took place in our hometown of Salt Lake City.  The study’s co-author, Dr. Kathleen Digre, is a researcher at the University of Utah. For many people, light plays a significant role in either triggering or exacerbating migraines. Because we use our eyes to see, it’s easy to think of migraines being triggered by the visual or image-making effects of light. But the study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Utah found light causes migraines even in non-seeing subjects, indicating a much more complex nerve response that doesn’t depend on the image-making aspect of vision and sight.  
migraine pain triggered by light in blind subjects
A study out of the University of Utah and Harvard University shows that light triggered migraine pain in blind subjects.

Light Triggers Migraine in Blind Subjects

For anyone who’s ever had a migraine, the idea that light can cause migraines to occur or become worse is nothing new; but the concept of light as a nerve stimulator independent of sight and vision is still being explored. In the current study, the researchers evaluated the effects of light in 15 blind women and 5 blind men who suffer migraines. Aside from blindness, the people in the study had similar demographics to migraine sufferers who were not blind.
The optic nerve plays a role in light sensitivity and migraine pain.
The optic nerve plays a role in light sensitivity and migraine pain.
Six of the subjects who had no light perception at all due to optic nerve damage or removal were unaffected by light during their migraine episodes, suggesting the retina plays a role even when the eyes don’t “see.” The remaining 14 subjects were able to detect bright lights directed at their faces, and had significant reactions when light was shone on them during migraine attacks. Using a subjective scale from 0 to 10, these subjects rated migraines at an average of 9.2 in a lighted environment compared to 6.2 in a dark environment. The researchers say their results underscore the presence and role of pathways triggered by the optic nerve that are not related to image formation, and also indicate people who suffer from migraines may be more sensitive to these effects. Overall, the study underscores the importance of wearing protective eyewear to cut down on light brightness and glare as an important tool in helping to avoid migraines and in modulating or reducing symptoms when headaches do occur.  

Blocking Painful Light

Does that mean migraine sufferers need to wear dark lenses at all times to prevent migraines from occurring? No – not all types of light cause painful symptoms, and the key to avoiding migraines or reducing symptoms when they do occur is to wear lenses that block the types of light that trigger pain. Axon Optics’ therapeutic eyewear was designed specifically for that purpose; in fact, a study conducted by researchers in England found the lenses reduced the number of migraines from six to two per month in the subjects they tested. If you suffer from migraines, find out about Axon Optics’ migraine glasses and how they could help you reduce your headaches and your symptoms.  
migraine glasses reduce light sensitivity
Block the light that has been show to trigger and exacerbate migraine.
    Article Source: Noseda R, Kainz V, Jakubowski M, et al. A neural mechanism for exacerbation of headache by light. Nature neuroscience. 2010;13(2):239-245. doi:10.1038/nn.2475.


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11 thoughts on “Study Shows Light Triggers Migraine Pain Even in Blind Subjects

  1. Sabine Stroud says:

    I bought some about 2 years ago and they didnt help me at all! I actually bought 2 pair and rhey just laying around now! I still cant go into stores duw to the floresent lights that bother me A LOT!

  2. Lisa Green says:

    I am disabled from migraines caused from extreme photophobia. I did try these glasses and they did not work but I think you can design something for severe photophobia. Flashing light, light coming into a dark room, just the shadow of a bunch of trees I am driving under on a bright sunny day sets me off. There is not enough known about this. And doctors don’t know how to help me . I think you all have the ability to create something that does work. I am hoping you dig deeper into it and find out . I will be your guinea pig. I have to wear dark glasses in my moms house. I have to keep all my lights even and low. I cannot go to any business or outside with out dark glasses and a hat unless Im medicated with pain meds. This is something I never had before but started after lumbar fusion and I believe it has to do with pressure of scar tissue on my spine, or what i believe is truly the culprit is metal toxicity. I am allergic to the metals they used for my sugery as i have gotten worse since about a year after the surgery. Which give the body time to start breakng down the metals. And I became allergic to all kinds of things, became allergic t light I guess too. It went from light sensitive most the times and having migraines three times every couple weeks to all the time having CONSTANT light sensitvity. And often sound sensitivity comes when I am getting the aura. I am disabled from this now. I was working two jobs and the migraines got worse and worse until i lost the job due to missing so much work. Icannot drive often because not only light and sound but pressure changes and storms, and hormones cause the migraines too. I am in a pickle. I can function better with medication i have an adverse reaction to that helps me better. But still not the go go person i used to be. Just waiting for someone to do a study and seriously find answers. Hoping you guys hit on something but these glasses are the same as the last time tried them. They won’t work until the lenses are darker and tested for differing light situations for worse cases than most like me.

  3. Lisa Green says:

    I don’t get migraines that cause photophobia. But have Photophobia constantly 24/7 and get migraines because of it. Need Glasses all the time. Can you help that?

  4. Gary Saville says:

    My wife has trouble with bright lights at night. She says they look like sparklers. Would your glasses help her?

  5. Terry Valentine says:

    I have a service connected disability due to migraines and took the letter from your website on instructions how Veterans can get Axon Optics glasses through the VA to my regional VA hospital when I went for an eye exam. The optometrist told me it was just a marketing ploy by your company and that any tinted lenses would work to filter florescent lighting. My migraines have been getting worse lately in conjuction with worsening light sensitivity. My polarized Oakley sunglasses are not cutting it anymore. I would hate to go through the hassle and money of purchasing something that may not work without trying it. In a bind. Help.

  6. Cassandra says:

    How can I get my insurance to pay for these when I sit and use the computer all day which is a job requirement

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