Migraines, Blue Light, and How Sunglasses Can Help

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered how the world works. Among the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, and the disruption and change that came with them, healthcare services were put under enormous strain. Individuals with chronic illnesses or conditions often were left untreated amid the swell of seriously ill COVID patients.

According to the CDC, six out of ten adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease. Of these 120 million sufferers, 15% of Americans reported having a migraine in the previous three months. The change in lifestyle forced upon the vast majority of U.S. citizens during the worst of the pandemic has increased the number of people suffering from migraines, as well as the severity of the migraines themselves. In a study from The Journal of Headache and Pain, almost 60% of migraine sufferers reported an increase in the frequency of their migraines during the pandemic. The stress of the pandemic is of course a factor in itself. However, the main cause of an increase in migraines has been put down to the extra blue light entering our bodies; a side effect of a shift to working and socializing from home, with only laptops, phones, and televisions for company.

Blue Light and Photophobia

Blue light glasses have come to prevalence in the last few years and are a popular choice for many people who work with, or in front of, screens. They work to block out the harmful HEV (high energy visible) light. HEV light has a short wavelength, which makes it quite easy for it to penetrate the eyes. Blue light glasses are available from many bulk sunglass’s distributors, including Olympic Eyewear. Wholesale sunglasses manufacturers have seen a boom in sales of blue light-blocking glasses, with the market now worth an estimated $22m per year.

People with migraines are sensitive to both natural and artificial light. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reported that around 80% of migraine sufferers list photophobia as a side effect. This may be due to the part of the brain that processes sensitivity to light being overexcitable. This, the occipital lobe, is triggered by modern screens, as well as the sun’s natural UV rays.

What are Migraine Sunglasses, and Do They Work?

Migraine sunglasses are designed to filter out the types of light that bring on migraines or make them worse. There has been a considerable amount of research conducted to find the most effective migraine sunglasses. One study looked at using different types of tinted glasses in children. With both pink and blue tints, all children reported an improvement in migraine symptoms. It was only those wearing the pink-tinted glasses that had improved symptoms for a longer period of up to four months.

Another study, by a group from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, used similar parameters. On this occasion, some participants wore gray-tinted sunglasses in comparison with the pink-tinted ones. Both offered improvements, but it was the pink-tinted glasses that were superior once again. They helped with “reading, fluorescent light sensitivity, overall light sensitivity, blepharospasm frequency, and blepharospasm severity”.

There is no cure for migraines, but from the aforementioned studies, it is clear that migraine sunglasses have a noticeable effect in the short and long term. The pink-tinted lenses, called FL-41, have proved most useful in reducing migraine symptoms. Given the amount of time we all spend looking at screens in our personal and professional lives, it is a huge benefit for migraine sufferers that there is an effective deterrent for the side effects.

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