September 26th, 2011

Although most migraine sufferers run for a dark room to avoid the light that seems to worsen their headaches, the reason for this is not generally known.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have identified a new visual pathway that may explain the high sensitivity to light in both sighted as well as blind migraine sufferers.

It’s estimated that 85% of migraine sufferers are also hypersensitive to light (photophobia).  Even low levels of light during an attack can prevent sufferers from doing simple things like, driving, reading or writing.

The researchers postulated that certain receptor cells trigger neurons in the brain that became hyper excited by the light stimulus and continued to be stimulated up to 20-30 minutes after the light source was removed.

In people who were totally blind, with no optic nerve activity at all, the light did not cause a problem. But even in people who were legally blind but could still sense some light, their migraines worsened when exposed to a light source.

So, I was going to say that your feeling that light was a problem to your migraines was NOT in your head, but actually, it is!


Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.