Light sensitivity, also known as photophobia, can be responsible for the most debilitating forms of migraine or headache pain. During a migraine attack, the majority of sufferers will experience some level of light sensitivity that can make the pain unbearable.
This chronic sensitivity to light is what causes most migraine sufferers to seek out a dark room or dark glasses in order to gain a little relief.
Light sensitivity can come in many different forms, including:
- Migraines triggered in bright sunlight or under bright indoor lighting
- Reports of seeing flickering lights, flashes or an aura or halo around lights
- An increase in pain when exposed to bright lights – this can range from stabbing pain behind the eyes to pain all across the head
Why Does The Light Trigger Migraines Or Increased Pain?
Until recently, the reason why light affected migraine sufferers so badly was a mystery. That was until a 2010 study found that pain and visual pathways meet in the brain causing the pain to worsen when light levels increased.
Dr. Burstein, the lead consultant on the study, said in an interview, “We did not know where in the brain pain and light talked to each other and we discovered a new pathway that originates in the eye and leads to the brain. It is in this pathway that the active light and pain neurons are most active during a migraine attack. This will explain why sufferers experience a throbbing headache and neck pain when exposed to increased levels of lighting.”
How To Cope With A Light Sensitivity Headache
If you see somebody wearing sunglasses indoors, you can usually bet they are suffering from a migraine or light sensitivity to some degree. Even the dimmest of lighting is enough to cause more pain. Photophobia symptoms can have such a disabling effect on life and often stop sufferers from carrying out routine activities such as driving, reading, writing or leaving the house at all.
Sunglasses are an effective solution if you want to lower the amount of light entering your cornea and along the pathway mentioned above. You may also want to ask your optical professional about the new FL-41 filter that can be applied to prescription glasses if you wear them. A trip to the optician can also identify any problems you may have with your eyes or eyesight that could be causing your photophobia and headaches.
Our Specialists Can Help Ease The Pain
At The New Jersey Headache Institute, we deal with all types of headache / migraine symptoms and pain. Our expert diagnosis and treatment services have helped countless patients enjoy and get on with life without worrying about the next migraine attack.
Don’t let light sensitivity or the pain associated with it control your life. We offer a range of treatments tailored to your individual needs focused on alleviating your symptoms. Get your headache diagnosis today. Call us at 908.315.5707 or use our contact form to book a consultation.
Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the co-founder of the New Jersey Headache Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi’s medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.
Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.