In-between photophobia

studies have shown migraineurs can have photosensitivity between migraine attacks.

This isn’t a new study but these particular studies have fascinated me so I thought I would write about them again on this blog so that people who have not heard about them have the chance.

We all know light sensitivity is a migraine symptom. But it turns out it can be, to a degree, a symptom between attacks in some migraineurs.

 inBackground Migraine attacks manifest with hypersensitivities to light, sound, touch and odor. Some people with migraine have photosensitivity between migraine attacks, suggesting persistent alterations in the integrity of brain regions that process light. Although functional neuroimaging studies have shown visual stimulus induced “hyperactivation” of visual cortex regions in migraineurs between attacks, whether photosensitivity is associated with alterations in brain structure is unknown.

Methods Levels of photosensitivity were evaluated using the Photosensitivity Assessment Questionnaire in 48 interictal migraineurs and 48 healthy controls. Vertex-by-vertex measurements of cortical thickness were assessed in 28 people with episodic migraine who had interictal photosensitivity (mean age = 35.0 years, SD = 12.1) and 20 episodic migraine patients without symptoms of interictal photosensitivity (mean age = 36.0 years, SD = 11.4) using a general linear model design.

Results Migraineurs have greater levels of interictal photosensitivity relative to healthy controls. Relative to migraineurs without interictal photosensitivity, migraineurs with interictal photosensitivity have thicker cortex in several brain areas including the right lingual, isthmus cingulate and pericalcarine regions, and the left precentral, postcentral and supramarginal regions.

Conclusion Episodic migraineurs with interictal photosensitivity have greater cortical thickness in the right parietal-occipital and left fronto-parietal regions, suggesting that persistent light sensitivity is associated with underlying structural alterations. Sage Journals


What is interesting to look at in that last part of the quote is the conclusion where it goes over the structural changes the person with interictal photosensitivity in the structure of the brain. More and more studies are looking at the brain structure and migraines and seeing a migraine brain and structural changes occurring. It is fascinating research.

Photophobia and migraines

Photophobia is a major pain in the eyeballs for me with chronic migraines. I own 7 hats and 6 pairs of sunglasses. I have my indoor specs tinted pink for photosensitivity. I have black out blinds in the house and live in a cave. I have Flux on my computer to change it from aggressive blue light to rose lighting. Then I dim the screen.

So here is the thing. I heard a little something about photophobia and it had me changing my behavior. Mine is bad. Very bad. Migraine or not, I cannot leave the house without sunglasses. It is just too painful. So I heard this lady had a doc recommend she not avoid light and slowly train herself to more light exposure to help with her photophobia. It will not go away, but avoidance makes it more severe.

Well hell I thought. So off to Google and this comes up:

What can I do to make my light sensitivity go away?First, adequate treatment of the cause is important—that means if you have dry eyes you should treat that symptom aggressively.  Second, be sure that you do not keep yourself in the dark—e.g. NO darkened rooms, no darkened windows, slowly increase the amount of light in your environment so that you are more tolerant of the light.  Get adequate sleep and treat any depression or anxiety which can make your symptoms worse. 

Not found anywhere I might add but on the American Migraine Foundation site.

Build a tolerance, eh? Or really desensitizing it, since it is extremely over sensitive. So during the day I have been cracking blinds open. And for a few minutes each day, a few times a day, I sit outside Without my sunglasses on. Some days this is pretty brutal… like when the sun is full on daytime and out, yeah, that is eyeball hell. On a nice cloudy day, that is not so bad anymore. It is getting better anyway. I don’t need them at twilight anymore. I can handle a brighter computer screen, for a short duration. Still need the Flux since it is blue light that is a problem with migraines.

Anyway, it is an interesting experiment for that down time. Not with a migraine. But any down time from a migraine you might have… increase your light exposure on a daily basis. Especially if yours is constant like mine.