What if I told you there were glasses that could help alleviate light sensitivity during a migraine attack, or that these special lenses could even prevent light from triggering episodes altogether? It may sound surprising, but it is true! These “migraine glasses” (as they are often labeled) do exist, and they are helping thousands of people get out of the dark and back to what really matters in their life. Imagine being able to say something like this:
“I’ve used my new glasses in various environments with fluorescent lighting. I am thrilled with the results and the new freedom I now have. I can walk into these places without fear of migraine. Thank you!”
— Holly, New Hampshire, United States
What makes these glasses unique is their precision-tinted lenses. This specialty rose-colored coating, which is commonly referred to as the FL-41 tint, is superior to any pair of blue blocker or digital screen glasses available on the market.
And the special sauce is in the specific light that is being filtered.
Researchers have repeatedly identified low- or short-wavelength light to be a primary catalyst for migraine attacks—specifically between 480nm and 520nm, which represents both blue and green on the spectrum of visible light.1-2 And this type of light unfortunately packs a powerful wallop. It can trigger a migrainous episode, it can make your pain worse or prolong an attack that has already started, and you can even be sensitive to it outside of the symptomatic phase too. Plus, it is quite literally everywhere: fluorescents, sunlight, digital screens…everywhere.
However, this ultimately opened the door to better understand how reducing exposure to these wavelengths might benefit patients. Sure enough, in the early 1990’s, a group of researchers reported that the use of these precision-tinted FL-41 specs could substantially reduce the number of monthly migraine attacks. Additional studies further showed that wearing these specialty tinted glasses could improve light sensitivity associated with other conditions as well as generalized intolerance to fluorescent lighting.3-4
As a result of this sophisticated light filtration process, the lenses themselves do not have to be as dark for inside use, meaning those with migraine can avoid the bad (but often necessary) habit of wearing sunglasses indoors. This will allow your eyes to be visible to others during social interaction and will not risk worsening your light sensitivity over time either. A double win!
Now, you may have heard of general “blue blockers” and think they accomplish the same effect. There is no doubt that many people claim to have been aided by this broad genre of eyewear, but it is important to note that they are not targeting the same wavelengths of light. The truth is: only the precision tint of FL-41 is designed specifically for people with migraine.
Top: Light transmission curve for TheraSpecs indoor FL-41 glasses. Courtesy of f.luxometer. Bottom: a comparison of three popular blue blocking glasses brands, sourced via medium. TheraSpecs removes more of the most problematic wavelengths for people with migraine according to research.
Even if you do not have migraine or another chronic headache disorder, these precision-tinted glasses can offer relief. In fact, patients with post-concussion syndrome, Lyme disease and fibromyalgia are among those who are quite literally “seeing” a difference in their sensitivity to light. They also acknowledge a reduction in the onset of other symptoms associated with their condition, which might include: dizziness, nausea, eye strain, aura, anxiety, and more. Hopefully researchers will continue to expand their understanding of just how impactful FL-41 lenses are for some of these auxiliary conditions—ultimately confirming what patients have already known for years.
If you want to learn more about how light sensitivity affects people with migraine, I encourage you to check out our online guide here.
1 M. Tatsumoto, T. Eda, T. Ishikawa, M. Ayama, K. Hirata “Light of Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cell (ipRGC) Causing Migraine Headache Exacerbation.” IHC symposium OR3. 2013 June
2 Main A, Vlachonikolis I, Dowson A. The wavelength of light causing photophobia in migraine and tension-type headache between attacks. Headache. 2000 Mar;40(3):194-9.
3 Blackburn MK, Lamb RD, Digre KB, et al. FL-41 Tint Improves Blink Frequency, Light Sensitivity, and Functional Limitations in Patients with Benign Essential Blepharospasm. Ophthalmology. 2009;116(5):997-1001. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2008.12.031.
4 Wilkins AJ, Wilkinson P. A tint to reduce eye strain from fluorescent lighting? Preliminary observations. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 1991 Apr;11(2):172-5.
About the guest author
Note: This article was provided by Theraspecs for educational purposes. Engineering Radiance is not affiliated in any way with TheraSpecs and was not compensated in any way for posting this or for any sales related to this article.