Find Migraine Relief With Screen Time Tips

Thinking of binge-watching your favorite Netflix series? Or maybe you are dealing with hours of back-to-back Zoom meetings? If you have experienced migraine attacks or other headaches, you might want to readjust the way you are spending your daily screen time.

According to an article from Wexner Medical Center about screen time, excessive screen time can “aggravate any associated (migraine) light sensitivity“. This may result in severe pulsing or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. Also, excessive screen time is associated with eye strain, screen flickering, and blue light exposure: all of which are risk factors for migraine.

During the 2017 Migraine World Summit, Kathleen Digre, a neuro-ophthalmologist from the University of Utah Moran Eye Center explained that visual sensitivity is an associated trait for people experiencing migraine attacks. This light sensitivity, which is associated with migraine headaches, is also known as photophobia.

Research has shown that the intensity of light exposure is proportional to the intensity of migraine headaches: The greater the intensity of light exposure, the more intense the migraine headache. This is applicable to most light types, such as blue, white, and amber light. Surprisingly, recent research has shown that green light exposure reduces migraine pain intensity for some patients.

How Does Blue Light Exposure Affect Migraine Headaches?

Blue light is visible light with a wavelength between 450 and 450 nanometers (nm). As it falls under the electromagnetic wave spectrum of having one of the highest energy levels, it poses a concern to human health when there is excessive exposure to it.

Electronic devices, like smartphones and computer screens, emit a large amount of blue light. So how does blue light exposure affect migraine headaches?

Studies have shown that photic signals originate in photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. These cells contain a photoreceptor called melanopsin which is highly sensitive to blue light. This results in the convergence of photic signals on thalamic trigeminovascular neurons that relay nociceptive signals from the dura to the cortex during migraine. Blue light is understood to activate these neurons more than other light types, which explains photophobia associated with blue light.

Research has also shown that filtering blue light can be therapeutic for people experiencing migraine attacks as it may reduce photophobia and headache intensity.

Tips On Managing Daily Screen Time To Reduce Migraine Attacks

1. Wear Blue Light Glasses

Blue light glasses help to filter out blue light glasses, reducing the risk factor for migraine attacks due to excessive blue light exposure. These glasses also typically allow green light, which is known to be more therapeutic for people who experience migraine attacks. There are also special glasses for migraine known as FL-41 glasses you can try.

2. Use A Screen Guard

Screen guards help to lower the glare and brightness of the computer screen. Similar to the mechanics of blue light glasses, screen guards help to filter blue light to reduce the risk of photophobia.

3. Ensure A Conducive Environment

With remote work as a common work arrangement for many, consider setting up an ergonomic workstation at home. There are many benefits to an ergonomic setup, such as good sitting posture, which may help alleviate migraine effects. A conducive environment also means having appropriate interior lighting that does not aggravate migraine attacks. Another possibility includes opting for “dark mode” on your Internet browser. This helps to lower exposure to glaring, white screens, which are often the default setting. Seek a physical therapist for professional advice in this area.

4. Take Intermittent Breaks

Take intermittent breaks once every 20 to 30 minutes. This allows your eyes to rest from screen fatigue as excessive screen time induces eye strain, which may aggravate migraine attacks.

Screen Time Management – Bottom line

While it may be impossible to avoid the computer or phone screen altogether, you can take active steps in ensuring that you manage your screen time, whether it means trying out a pair of blue light glasses scientifically tested for reducing migraine frequency or learning to space out your Zoom video calls. After all, taking control of migraine is a holistic process that involves making different lifestyle adjustments instead of taking an isolated, active step.

Find out what are the other triggers and relief methods for migraine attacks in the Migraine Buddy app. Download your Migraine Buddy app now!

Meta description: Are you experiencing long, painful migraine headaches after a long day of Zoom meetings? Read our article to find out how you can manage your screen time for migraine relief!

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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