Students Staff

14 June 2011

Tinted lenses offer real help for migraine sufferers

Colchester Campus

A greater insight into how tinted lenses help migraine sufferers has been revealed in a new study involving scientists from Essex.

Tinted lenses have been widely used to help migraine sufferers, but until now it has been unclear exactly why they are such an effective remedy.

However, the new research shows how coloured glasses tuned to each migraine sufferer work by normalising activity in the brain. The researchers saw specific abnormal brain activity (known as hyperactivation) when migraine sufferers saw intense patterns. The tinted lenses considerably reduced the effect.

Professor Arnold Wilkins, from the Department of Psychology, was part of a team including scientists from Michigan State University in the United States, which looked at specific visual stimuli known to trigger migraines.

Their research, published in the journal Cephalalgia, for the first time suggests a neurological basis for these visual remedies for migraine sufferers.

Participants in the study were tested and prescribed precision ophthalmic tints (POTs) with an Intuitive Colorimeter, which previous studies have shown to be effective in reducing the number of migraines for many sufferers. The test subjects were then exposed to a range of striped patterns which had varying likelihood of triggering distortion and discomfort.

This study aimed to investigate the effect of the POTs on the cortical activation induced by the stressful pattern in each of the visual areas of the brain. The researchers feel their work could lead to a potential biomarker for identifying those migraine patients suffering cortical hyperactivation. This biomarker could prove useful not only for further evaluation of POTs but also for studying the effectiveness of drugs to prevent migraine.


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