Shades for Migraine Event & Photophobia

With the month of June being Migraine Awareness month, many organizations are working on ways to increase and spread the awareness of migraine and to try to make migraine more visible. One such group is Shades for Migraine. They have designated June 21 to be Migraine Solidarity Day and are asking for individuals to participate by wearing sunglasses all day! Since this day happens to be my birthday, I am aware that June 21st is the longest day of the year. While the importance of sunglasses may seem strange to some individuals, for those who experience photophobia it is definitely something that hits home. For many of us, sunglasses are a major life necessity for survival.


Photophobia is a common symptom associated with migraine. Despite having the term phobia in the name, it is not a fear of photos, lights, or something else along those lines. Photophobia is when an individual becomes overly sensitive to lights. This goes beyond the sunlight being bright on a pretty day. When somebody is feeling the effects of photophobia, any lights can be very painful; even lights such from the television, cell phone, alarm/oven clock, indoor lighting and most definitely sunlight. Due to the amount of people who have photophobia as a symptom of their migraine or are aware that certain types of lighting can trigger a migraine, some companies have produced specially tinted glasses for these individuals in order to filter out certain types of lighting.

Why this kind of awareness matters

One of the participating organizations is a nonprofit organization that I assist. Due to this, I posted the information in our support group about the Shades for Migraine event. One woman responded to my post with an extremely upsetting comment about other people in her life becoming mad at her and even yelling at her simply because she needed to wear sunglasses during a migraine. This is something that deeply impacted me because I wear sunglasses daily and even inside if it is a particularly bad day! I know what this woman feels when people try to attack her about wearing sunglasses indoors because I have had similar issues. At my last place of employment, I would wear my outdoor Theraspecs inside the office because my photophobia is extreme, even without a migraine. Due to this, I encountered all sorts of comments from coworkers about how I was just trying to be like a celebrity or that I was simply trying to get attention. Sometimes other people’s ignorance can deeply affect us when they express these types of thoughts or attitudes towards us. By participating in this viral event, hopefully others who are not familiar with photophobia will become educated about it and in turn will be more supportive of the individuals managing their photophobia. The links for the viral event are provided below. It would be wonderful if you are able to share the information and you can even submit photos of you in your sunglasses! This is a wonderfully creative way to generate a visible awareness for an invisible condition. Hopefully through various forms of social media this awareness campaign can take off and be the start to a new annual event. They have already reached 16,694 people according to their website. website provides links to the many organizations and several blogs that are working with them to make Shades for Migraine possible, including us here at!Now that you know about it, will you participate? Have you ever been given a hard time about wearing sunglasses ‘too much’ or indoors? If so, how do you respond to those who try to criticize you?

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