On June 21, Migraine Solidarity Day, people donned sunglasses as part of the Shades for Migraine campaign. The event was coordinated by the Association of Migraine Disorders. The point was to try to secure funding for non-opioid treatments for migraines and other chronic pain disorders.
Why sunglasses? Some people believe that sunglasses can actually help people with migraines. This is certainly possible. Although the research isn’t strong enough to actually recommend this treatment, the low risk profile of sunglasses means that migraine sufferers should try them.
Research about Migraines and Tinted Lenses
Although this is a new campaign to try to promote the use of sunglasses for migraine treatment, the treatment itself is not a new idea. For more than 25 years, people have been looking to utilize tinted lenses to reduce migraine frequency.
One of the most successful experiments was also one of the earliest. In 1991, 20 children with migraines were divided into groups that wore either blue or red lenses for four months. Children who wore blue lenses didn’t see any improvement in their migraines. But children who wore red lenses saw their average migraines per month drop from 6.2 to 1.6.
Unfortunately, other studies have not reproduced these dramatic results. A study of adults that used a double-masked, randomized crossover design said that headache frequency was only marginally lower when the adults were wearing optimal lenses.
Studies investigating migraine mechanisms show that the theory is sound, however. One study showed that migraines could be reduced by sunglasses that reduce hyperexcitement of the visual cortex. That shades reduced hyperexcitability in migraineurs was confirmed by fMRI, which looks at brain activity. However, this didn’t confirm that sunglasses would reduce migraines.
Keep Trying Migraine Treatments
There are many frustrations for migraineurs, not the least of which is the fact that they can rarely be sure whether a migraine treatment will work for them or not. Few migraine treatments have good research supporting them. It’s often just a situation where people have to keep trying treatments until they find one that works.
When doing this, however, it’s important to favor treatments that are noninvasive, drug free, and have few side effects. Sunglasses fit the bill perfectly.
TMJ treatment is also a great option. Initial TMJ treatments are completely noninvasive and reversible. Just muscle relaxation with TENS and then getting fitted for a removable oral appliance. There are few side effects, and many people experience good results.