Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Research Illuminates Source of Light Sensitivity Among Migraineurs


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A new research study about the role of light in migraine attacks reveals some cool information about the possible source of this sensitivity, which is shared by about 85% of migraine sufferers.

Researchers noticed that even some blind migraineurs experienced greater pain when exposed to light. They studied a group of 20 blind people with two different types of blindness who also suffer from headaches - total blindness due to disease or legal blindness due to degeneration of the retina. They discovered the latter group, which is able to differentiate between light and dark, experienced greater headache pain when exposed to light. There was no increase in headache pain among the first group despite exposure to light. Researchers say this suggests the optic nerve is a key to the light sensitivity experienced by migraineurs.

Professor Burstein said: "While the patients in the first group did not experience any worsening of their headaches from light exposure, the patients in the second group clearly described intensified pain when they were exposed to light.

"This suggested to us that the mechanism of photophobia must involve the optic nerve, because in totally blind individuals, the optic nerve does not carry light signals to the brain.

The scientists hope this research will pave the way for ways to block light pathways to allow migraineurs to be exposed to light with less suffering.

Sources:
Why Light Worsens Migraine Headaches
Harvard Tests Reveal Why Light Can Worsen Migraines

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.