Recently, I watched a webinar discussing migraine triggers–specifically light. Unfortunately for chronic migraine sufferers, light is one of the most common triggers. As a result, we tend to hide from the light or eliminate it completely. It made me think about how I deal with light and migraines.
Living in the dark
I realize that I’ve been guilty of this for years. You’ll rarely see me out of the house without at least one pair of darkened glasses. If I’m not wearing my dark, polarized sunglasses, I am wearing my Gunnar computer glasses. In my office at work, you’ll never find my lights on and the shades are normally drawn. At home, I’m always sitting in a semi-dark room. Some of this comes from nearly 15 years working third shift–and in the dark.
In this particular webinar, the expert discussed why we do this and how we shouldn’t. For migraine sufferers, our eyes are much more sensitive to light, color changes, etc. When we go outside, the contrast to the brightness causes us pain. So, we retreat. We cover ourselves in the dark. Unfortunately, they explained, this actually makes it worse for us. Because we retreat into the dark, our eyes and brains become accustomed to us–making us ill prepared to deal with the light. For me, I need the light! The longer I spend in the dark, the deeper my mood gets.
Bringing back the light
Over the last month or so, since I started Plexus, my migraines have decreased significantly. So, I have made an effort to re-acclimate myself to the light. I have uninstalled the screen darkening software from my computer, opened my blinds and have even reduced the usage of my sunglasses. The trigger hasn’t disappeared for me but, taking the advice of the expert, I’ve begun to reduce the contrast between the two. When I spend all day in the dark, I can hardly function outside in the sunlight. On the flip side, when I spend all day outside working, I have trouble functioning inside.
It’s hard for me to believe, but until I was 25, I NEVER wore sunglasses–my prescription made it difficult to tint my eyeglasses. We’ve determined that many of my headaches have been caused by some neck problems, but the headaches started even before that. I started working third shift when I was 16–beginning my life in the dark. In my early 20s, I often worked late into the night on a computer with only the computer screen providing my light. I realize now that this only exacerbated the problem. How does one break the cycle though?
As soon as my migraines started decreasing, I slowly started brightening my surroundings. It started merely with open mini blinds. Then I started wearing my computer glasses more. (The Gunnar glasses filter out the bright blue/white light and leave an amber/yellow tint. My sunglasses just make it dark.) This week, I’ve even been reducing my reliance on the computer glasses. For a little bit every day, I pull them off and work on the computer without them.
It remains to be seen if I will be able to continue this trend long-term. Studies show that chronic migraine sufferers are genetically pre-disposed to light sensitivity. So, I doubtful will ever be able to completely shed the tinted glasses. However, the world is much more beautiful when there isn’t a brown, amber, blue or yellow tint to it.