Person with rose tinted glasses that block out laptop light sits in library holding pile of books.

Finding Relief from Light-Sensitivity

“Why are you wearing sunglasses?” a classmate asks.

I understood that it was strange that I was wearing dark sunglasses indoors; there were no windows in the small school library. However, the lights were bright fluorescents and I was staring at a large computer screen trying to write my graduate thesis without my migraine worsening.

Making light of the situation and moving on

Sometimes I’ll take a punchline over the truth.

I opened my mouth to answer when another classmate interjected. “Because her future's so bright!” he said.

I laughed, shrugged in agreement, and turned back to my work. The classmate who had asked the question still looked confused. Not my problem, I thought.

Dealing with a near-constant migraine

I had been diagnosed with migraine only several months prior but had dealt with attacks throughout my life. The attacks had started to bleed together and I was never completely free of symptoms. I was seeing a headache specialist regularly, trying new treatments and strategies, but the light sensitivity was constant.

Some situations just called for the socially awkward choice of wearing shades indoors. I was often asked if I was hungover, even though I didn’t dare touch alcohol for fear of worsening symptoms.

Retreating to safe spaces

In my studio space, I had the fluorescent lights above disabled. I had a nice big window which let in indirect sunlight most of the day. But every time I entered one of the classrooms, my head threatened a migraine. I often had to apologize to the teacher and leave the class. Since it was my final semester, the main focus was on my thesis project and paper, but I still lost some points in my grades for the classes I could not attend.

Being outside of school wasn’t much better. I was in New York City so it was either bright sunlight during the day or bright headlights, streetlamps, and store lights at night. I walked on the shady side of the street and wore my sunglasses in the subway and to the grocery store.

The only places I felt safe were my home, my art studio, and the yoga studio.

A solution in rose-colored glasses

One day I saw that the author of a migraine blog I followed was trying a new type of rose-tinted glasses that her husband had engineered based on research of migraine and light sensitivity.

I didn’t have the money to buy them right away (did I mention I was an art student?), but  I had some extra cash upon graduation from thoughtful relatives. While others may have bought new clothes, a new gadget, or even squirreled the money away in the bank, I bought myself a pair of those glasses.

Instant relief and freedom

I felt relief the second I put them on. They weren't dark like sunglasses so I could wear them indoors and still see well, but they subdued the light that was painful for me. It was like I found some freedom I have been missing. I could shop at the grocery store, go on the subway, look at a computer, and be comfortable.

People on the street complimented me about my cute new glasses. I wasn't looking for attention, but at least it was positive attention, and it still felt a lot less conspicuous than dark sunglasses. As soon as I could, I saved up and bought a second pair with a darker tint for wearing outside.

I find relief to this day

My migraine attacks are much less frequent now, but I still wear them almost every day. I don’t find regular outdoor sunglasses adequate compared to my outdoor migraine glasses. But with them, I can take walks and enjoy nature and drive and shop and work without as much worry. If I look at a computer screen without my glasses, I can still very easily get a migraine, so I even have an extra pair in my drawer at work in case I forget my regular pair.

Even though I’d rather not have a migraine attack ever again, I am thankful for this tool.

A note from the author: This article is meant to describe a personal milestone moment in my journey to a better life with migraine disease. If you want to know the specifics about the glasses I mentioned, or other tools for dealing with light sensitivity, check out my video and article here. I'd love to hear about any milestone moments in your own journey; feel free to comment below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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