Do you get migraine headaches? When you get one do you have to retreat to a darkened room? Many people find that they do. Researchers are finding there is a reason for this.
I am not a routine migraine headache sufferer. My wife is and is used to dealing with them. I have had one in my life and I can only hope that I never get another one. When I got a migraine headache I thought it was just another regular headache. However after a couple of hours I began to get nauseated. I began to feel that things “weren’t alright.” I can’t explain this feeling. I just didn’t “feel right.”
I had been taking an analgesic and it was not working so I took more and finally I took some analgesic with codeine that I happened to have and it didn’t help either. Pretty soon noise began to agitate me and I did indeed become agitated. Finally I had to go to a dark room where my wife put a cool and wet washcloth over my eyes. Only after about 24-hours did I begin to feel better and then I felt “wiped out.”
Recently some National Institute of Health (NIH) researchers performed a small study. While small it was valuable and promises to be very helpful with respect to migraines and light.
In the study 20 blind people were studied. Of these 20 people six had their eyes completely removed for various reasons such as disease. On the other hand 14 people eyes were intact. At various times when these people got migraine headaches light was introduced to them. The six people with no eyes had no additional pain while the 14 with eyes had an increase in pain.
What this data told researchers was that the optic nerve played a role since it was still a part of the scenario with the 14 participants. At the same time the main light-detecting cells couldn’t be the reason pain increased since they were not working correctly.
What have researchers learned?
Of course it is verified that light does increase pain in migraines. Additionally the main light-detectors do not have anything to do with the increase of pain. Rather, it is rare cells that carry light signals.
What this will allow researchers to do in the future will be to block light paths that hit the brain and increase pain.
It is exciting to be aware of research that is going to ultimately make life better for people. Having suffered just once from a migraine I can tell you from first hand experience it will make life better.
“How Light Boosts Migraine Pain,” Article, Periodical, News in Health (NIH), March 2010
Personal Experience and Knowledge