I was having a period of time earlier this year when I would wake with no signs of a Migraine; not even a twinge or any type of head pain. Unfortunately, by the time I pulled into the parking lot at work, my head was already starting to act up.
I ran through a whole list of things trying to figure out what might be triggering me. Of course the first item I looked at was if it was because of work. I like my job and there are times when it can be a bit stressful, but this really didn’t seem like it was the culprit. I asked myself many other questions as to what might be going on during these mornings – what did I eat for breakfast; did I eat breakfast; what about dinner; was there a funny smell in or around my car and the checklist of questions went on through many known Migraine triggers.
On one of these morning commutes, it finally dawned on me as to what it might be. You see, my commute to work consists of driving directly into the rising sun and then into the setting sun on my way home. On this morning, I was fighting with my car visor and just generally trying to avoid the sun as it kept moving around with each turn of the car.
Sometimes I feel like I've tried everything to help with my photophobia. I am not only sensitive to light when I have a Migraine, but lights will easily trigger a Migraine for me. I have a workplace lighting accommodation and don’t know how I would make it through one day without it. I’ve even made many modifications to my car which helps me while driving, but they just didn't seem to be enough for these summer commutes.
While in my car, I wear a hat and sunglasses. I have always found that a hat works well for me and my sunglasses are the 'fit over' type. I hardly wear my contacts anymore and these sunglasses are worn or fit right over my regular glasses. They really don't look bad and even have tinted lenses on the sides.
The windows on my car are legally tinted. Tinting laws vary from state to state so if you are interested in this as an option, you may want to check your state laws first. Where I live, I can tint the back windows any way I want, but it’s illegal to have any tint on the windshield or two front side windows. Luckily I found a way around this restriction. I had my doctor fill out a form to get a medical exemption from our tinting laws. I couldn't believe how quickly it was approved by my state. Tinted windows are an option that is a little more expensive than I would normally go, but I had to try something different. I know the tinting helps me because I can see a big difference when my windows are down or when I drive in a car that doesn’t have any tinting.
I do other silly things to my car that help when I drive. I have a rolled up hand towel which I put behind the rearview mirror. This fills that gap between the two front visors. It really does a good job with blocking the sun when it beams directly in from the front.
I have a solution for when the sun shines through my side window too. Sometimes the visor can be a little too short to block the sun after it reaches the end of the visor. For this gap, I use a knee pad. It is a simple knee pad that fits beautifully around the end of a visor and extends all the way to the door frame. This blocks the sun from getting in through the side.
With all of these extras and changes to my car, it still was not enough to thwart the sun and glare during my morning commute to work.
After talking with a friend, I ended up getting another pair of fit over sunglasses. These are supposed to be really good for people with Migraines. The first time I put them on, they felt so much better than my other sunglasses. My brain actually felt like it could relax and not be so excited by the sun. I kept flipping back and forth between both sunglasses and knew I made a good choice.
To my disappointment, my new sunglasses along with all of the other car accommodations were still no match for the low sun during my commutes.
On one particularly sunny morning and out of desperation, I ended up putting on both pairs of sunglasses! Don’t laugh; this was what I’d been looking for! I fit one pair of fit overs into the other, put them on over my regular glasses and drove away. Two pairs of sunglasses made it double dark and double good, but definitely not too dark to drive considering the position of the bright sun.
Out of curiosity, I had to ask my boys how they looked. One son said I looked a little bug eyed, but only because he was looking for something funny. My other son said he knew something was a little different, but it wasn't bad. In any case, I keep wearing my two pairs of sunglasses over my regular glasses and have not started off my workday in a cranky mood because of my sun commute in a while.
Photophobia is always a struggle for me. I’d like to hear what you do to help with your light sensitivity. What crazy kinds of things did you find that help you? What else have you tried? What about at night when we can't wear sunglasses; what do you do then?
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?