Many headache migraine sufferers feel that their pain and discomfort get worse when exposed to bright light. This leads to them seeking out darkness in order to feel relief, which can interfere with many day to day activities and responsibilities.
New data shows that exposing light sensitive headache sufferers to specific wavelength of green light can drastically reduce their sensitivity to light, and can even reduce the severity of their headaches.
Sensitivity to light, referred to as photophobia in the medical community, is a symptom associated with 4 out of 5 headache and migraine sufferers. Being exposed to light, even normal indoor lighting, can make their discomfort unbearable.
In many cases, it's not the headache itself that's debilitating, but the seclusion in a dark room that limits the sufferer's ability to live a normal life.
A new study led by Rami Burstein, Professor of Anesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School, shows that a narrow band of green light exacerbates migraine significantly less than all other colors of light and that at low intensities it can even reduce the headache itself.
Dr. Burstein and his team conducted an experiment that involved exposing migraine sufferers to different colors of light, tuned to very specific frequencies. The results were that nearly all colors made the pain worse, blue light is the most harmful, but green light was by far the most tolerable. In fact, a certain shade of green light actually reduced pain on average by about 20%.
Digging further into the cause of these unexpected results, it was learned that of all the colors that are processed by the eye and sent to the brain via the optic nerve, green light was carried by the smallest electrical impulse.
"My hope is that patients will be able to benefit directly from these findings one day very soon," says Burstein, who is working to develop a low powered green light bulb that may help headache and migraine sufferers live a more normal and functional life.