New hope for migraine sufferers

  • Nearly one in ten adults suffers from migraine
  • UK male sufferers alone lose 4m working days with an estimated productivity loss of £750m
  • Migraine accounts for more than half of all headaches

New collaborative research by City University, the University of Essex and the Institute of Optometry, London shows that coloured filters are effective in reducing migraine symptoms for some sufferers.

Professor Bruce Evans, of City University`s renowned Department of Optometry and Visual Science, and the Institute of Optometry, said:

“Sufferers and optometrists have suspected for some time that visual stimuli can trigger headaches, but there has been a lack of evidence-based research on the issue.

“There is research showing that some visual stimuli can result in migraine headaches. Striped patterns are especially stressful for migraine sufferers; lines of printed text may cause `pattern glare` which can start an attack of migraine.

“Our recent randomised controlled trial shows that individually prescribed coloured filters can be an effective treatment for some people whose migraines are triggered by visual stimuli.”

Twenty one patients suffering from medically diagnosed migraine and whose migraines seemed to be triggered by visual factors were referred from GPs and other health carers to take part in the study. A control group was also examined and optometrists were not told which patients had migraine and which did not. While little difference was found between the migraine and control groups for eye health and function, the migraine group subjects were more prone to pattern glare than the control group.

Using individually prescribed tinted lenses showed `a consistent and marked improvement`, with headaches less frequent as a result. Professor Evans also noted that optometrists may be able to help migraine sufferers by early diagnosis and referring patients for medical advice, as well as relieving visual triggers for migraine.

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