Understanding Light Sensitivity And Migraine


Understanding Light Sensitivity

What Is Light Sensitivity?

Light sensitivity, also known as “Photophobia” refers to an abnormal and extreme sensitivity to light. In a research article by Pubmed Central, this is a common and debilitating symptom of migraine disease. Although everyone is sensitive to light to some extent, people with photophobia are hyper-sensitive. For example, changes in light levels and even natural light can worsen the pain of migraine. This is why retreating to a dark or dimly lit room is one of the suggested methods to provide relief for some people during a migraine attack. In this article, we explore the link between light sensitivity and migraine.

Link: Light Sensitivity And Migraine

According to an article on PubMed Central, migraine is the most common neurologic disorder causing photophobia. Up to 80% of migraine patients experience photophobia during an attack.

In another research paper on Photophobia in migraine patients, it is found that migraine patients are more light-sensitive during and between migraine attacks. Additionally, 30-60% of migraine attacks are triggered by light or glare. For example. sunlight, television from motion pictures, and fluorescent lights can provoke migraine.

Photophobia Causes

According to American Migraine Foundation, while migraine is the most common condition associated with continuous photophobia, there may be other causes of photophobia.

Other causes of photophobia can include ocular conditions, such as dry eyes and irritation; central nervous system disorders; and blepharospasm: an abnormal, involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids. However, migraine and photophobia are so closely linked that in the absence of an ocular or central nervous system condition, the appearance of photophobia without head pain can still result in a diagnosis of migraine.

Managing Photophobia In Daily Life

It may be tempting to avoid exposure to light especially if you are light sensitive and experiencing pain. However, living in constant darkness will increase your sensitivity. This can make it more challenging to function in environments you cannot control. Increasing the brightness of your environment is one way to build tolerance. 

Wearing sunglasses can shield your eyes from the brightness and prevent irritation indoors and outdoors, and they’re one of several tools you can use to adjust the wavelength, or tint, of the light around you. 

Typically, blue-tinted light is the most painful hue; this color is most commonly emitted by computer and smartphone screens. Filtering blue light through yellow, orange, or red lenses offers some people relief. Consider investing in light bulbs that emit green light, the only band of light that has been shown to not aggravate migraine.

Finally, it’s important to educate and share with your loved ones that there’s a need to dim lights during a migraine attack. These adjustments to your environment are necessary treatments and having loved ones understand and support you in this area will help you manage migraine-related light sensitivity better.


  1. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/photophobia-migraine/
  2. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/what-is-photophobia/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3485070/
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1468-2982.1993.1305321.x
Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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