Friday, May 20, 2016

Do you have migraines with photophobia?

Fifteen percent of all the people in the world suffer from migraine headaches. That's a lot.

Not all have photophobia, of course--the inability to endure light during the headache. But about 80% of migraine suffers do react to light.

This is usually not as disabling as the headache pain itself, but can cause sufferers to isolate in dark rooms for relief--and of course, away from work.

Now, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center published a study in BRAIN that finds that exposing migraine patients to a narrow band of green light can reduce the photophobia and even lessen the severity of the headache pain.

The research started because blind migraineurs were found to react badly to blue light. This led to testing colors of light on patients who could see.

When exposed to light of say an office, 80% of those tested reported intensification of the headache with all colors--except for green. Green light even reduced the severity by 20%.

They also tested why this was so and found that neurons in the thalamus were less responsive to green and most responsive to blue.

So now what? Bulbs that emit narrow band green light at low intensity are prohibitively expensive.  And special sunglasses to admit only this kind of light are also spendy because they are based on light microscopy.

Work remains to be done.

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