If you suffer from migraines, you probably also suffer from the accompanying symptom of photophobia, more casually known as light sensitivity. In fact, some estimates show that over 80% of people who get migraines experience photophobia as a symptom.
What is Photophobia
The most common complaints that people with migraines have about light are that it seems “too bright,” and that it worsens migraine pain. To someone with photophobia, normal sunlight coming in a window can seem blinding, and can be accompanied by sharp pain.
For some people, light sensitivity can start before the migraine does, and can even continue throughout the headache. This can be debilitating for migraine sufferers, and for many decades, scientists have failed to find a clear explanation for why it happens and how it works.
While photophobia is still poorly understood and needs further research, a new study has exposed some valuable information about the mechanisms behind light sensitivity in migraine sufferers.
Migraine Study Clarifies Effects of Light
Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center weren’t satisfied with how little we know about light sensitivity and migraines, so they performed a study to try and nail down more information about how light and migraines interact.
It all started with a curious finding: Some patients found light uncomfortable during a migraine even when that light had no effect on the intensity of their headache pain. Instead, patients found that some light triggered feelings of irritability, anger, nervousness, depression, or anxiety. These feelings were accompanied by physical symptoms as well, such as chest or throat tightness, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, and nausea.
When the researchers further explored this idea, they found that people who experience migraines reported discomfort when exposed to most light colors, even when they were between migraines. Interestingly, the only color of light that didn’t trouble migraine sufferers was the color green. Meanwhile, the control group of patients who don’t suffer migraines didn’t experience any negative response to any colors of light, and in fact sometimes reported positive feelings in response to colored light.
The researchers also discovered a previously unknown connection between the retina and areas of the brain that regulate responses to change in external environment. In other words, the part of the eye that senses light is directly connected to an area of the brain that can impact both physiological and emotional response.
What’s Causing Your Migraines?
Unfortunately, this kind of information is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the migraine research that will be needed to enable effective treatment. At this point, scientists still have too little understanding of how migraines work, and treatment and prevention for migraines are still incredibly difficult. Misdiagnosis can also result in many migraine sufferers being unable to find effective treatment.
If your migraine is being caused by TMJ-related tension in your body, treatment for the migraine won’t do you much good — but treatment for TMJ could. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry online to schedule an appointment and find out if you may be suffering from TMJ.