An interesting study published in Cephalalgia suggests that precision-tinted glasses seem to help prevent migraines in people whose pain is triggered by certain visual patterns. The lead author of the study, Dr. Jie Huang, associate professor of radiology at Michigan State University, says that “up to 42% of people who have migraines accompanied by visual “aura,” such as flashes of light, may benefit.”

These types of lenses have been around since the 1990’s in Britain to help people who have symptoms similar to those of dyslexia. Certain striped patterns have been known to cause migraines in people with aura.

In this study, participants were asked to look at “stressful” striped patterns (big contrast stripes a certain distance apart) through different pairs of glasses, including one which was precision-tinted while being studied with an MRI machine to capture brain activity in real time to determine if tinted glasses normalized brain activity.

A specific type of brain activity, known as hyperactivation, present when migraines are occurring, was eased, with participants reporting less discomfort (by about 70% compared with 40% for other lenses) when looking at patterns through tinted lenses. This research, which was funded by the National Institute of Health, is the first neurological explanation for why tinted glasses work at preventing migraines.

According to Dr. Carmen Ramirez, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Center College of Medicine, this very interesting study suggests more research should be done, with more data and more people.

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