Can sunglasses fight migraine attacks? Yes, but it does matter what kind you buy.
My sunglasses are old. They’re disintegrating. They’ve been stepped on, squashed, scratched – it’s time for something new.
So I started looking around, and I realized that the kind of sunglasses I need are not sold for $10 in a mall kiosk. It took me a while to get over the initial shock of the price, but then I realized that it was my health I was talking about, and that the investment was worth it.
What kind of sunglasses are best for the migraine or chronic headache patient? It’s not an easy question. And once again, as with most migraine treatment, the answer is very individual. But starting with basic quality sunglasses is a step in the right direction.
Once again, you’re not going to get these for $10. Start thinking in the $100-$200 range… but then again, quality has nothing to do with the logo on the arm of your new shades. So don’t pay extra just to be cool.
First, look for quality. We don’t want cheap plastic sunglasses with some paint on them to make the room look dark.
Next, look for UVA/UVB protection. "100% UV" protection is a little vague for me – I’d rather have some specifications, so ask if you’re not sure. Many sunglasses now have UVA/B/C protection, but since we’re not exposed to much UVC light (unless you’re in the tanning salon) it’s not a priority. Still, that’s usually a sign of quality.
You’re probably also going to want polarized sunglasses. If you’ve never used polarized glasses, you’ll really be looking at the world differently when you first put them on. The cut down the glare – like glare off of the hood of your car. Fishermen have used them for years to cut down on the water glare. (Of course, if you need to see glare, these aren’t for you. If you’re skiing, for example, you need to watch for those ice patches)
What about the tint? First of all, gray and beige/brown tints are popular simply because they tend to give you the most "real" colours. More on tints below.
One more option is photochromic sunglasses. These are the kind that darken in bright light. They’re not for everyone, but if you want to wear them all the time, and are running in and out of the house, it might be an option to consider.
Studies have been done using different types of sunglasses or contacts that block out certain wavelengths of light. For example, some found that a rose tint helped cut the migraine symptoms. Another study found that an optimal tint (not focused on one colour) was better.
The catch is that results tend to be very individual. Until we have more information, your best bet is either to go to a specialist or simply find the tint that you feel is the most comfortable.
The Irlen Institute, for example, is one group that uses colour to alleviate symptoms of various conditions, such as migraine. You can read more at their website.
There are options available to you, but be sure to at least invest in a pair of quality sunglasses. Get a good case, protect them, and wear them.
After that, consider tinted contacts, or visiting a specialist and getting tested. Ask about precision tinted lenses (PTLs) for migraine.