Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Light REALLY DOES make migraines worse

As an ex-migraine sufferer I was interested to see this article in the latest Nature magazine which demonstrated that light definitely makes migraine headaches worse. I always felt that it did and would always try to stay away from bright light when I had a migraine, but some people thought it was just a function of screwing up my eyes in the light making my head muscles tense up more. Plenty of migraine sufferers out there can now declare they're not as neurotic as their friends think!
The researchers in the Nature article compared blind people with migraines with normal-sighted people also suffering regular migraines, who had been matched on age, age of onset (most started around age 17 to 18, give or take several years), occurrence of an aura and other medical factors. They found that only the blind people with an intact optic nerve had their migraine exacerbated by light, along with the seeing people. The blind people whose optic nerves were still Okay (ie. they could transmit information to the brain about light vs. dark, but not about lines, shapes and colours) had their migraines made worse whereas the blind people without optic nerves and/or no eyeballs did not.
The authors give really detailed information for the knowledgeable about the nerve pathways involved, but I won't go into any of that. I think the fact that the study appeared in such a prestigious scientific publication is good evidence that the research is quite sound and migraineurs can be assured they're not crying wolf!

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