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Living with Migraine

Overhead light in office

  • By euse

    Hey everyone,

    due to renovation work, I’ll soon have to move into a new, much bigger office with lots of overhead lights. The move is temporary (for the next 6 months or so), but cannot be avoided. Since I’m only a trainee I cannot reasonably ask them to buy desk lamps for all of the roughly 30 desks in the new office.

    Do any of you have any tips on how I could deal with sitting in overhead light for several hours a day? Have tinted glasses worked for you?

    I already manage my screen brightness and colour composition with f.lux. Also, I can work from home on some days, but I do have to be at the office most days of the week.

    I’ve become truly hypersensitive to light over the last year and currently most of my migraines are triggered by light. Even spending an hour in a meeting room with overhead lights can easily trigger an attack. I’ve just been prescribed anti-epileptics in the hope of reducing the frequency of attacks and the thought of having to spend several hours a day in overhead light is frankly very discouraging. 🙁

    Any advice is appreciated!

  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi euse,

    Lots of us experience issues with lighting or photophobia, which can trigger be a strong migraine trigger – I’m sorry this is troublesome for you too. It sounds like you are doing a great job managing this but there are a few things I can add that may be helpful. First I’d to share information on photophobia with you;

    There are glasses that are specifically designed to help with photophobia. TheraSpecs and Axon are two such company’s that make them. Let me share this information with you; and

    You can find information on managing photophobia at the workplace in this article that may help; and

    I hope this helps,


  • By Lisa Robin Benson Moderator

    Hi Euse,

    Nancy’s answer was spot on so I will just give my personal experience. Where I work we have similar lighting and it is one of my worst triggers. I wear the type of glasses Nancy mentioned (the TheraSpecs brand though both brands use the same rose-colored tint) and they are probably one of the BEST tools in my migraine kit. I feel so much more free to work, shop, etc in this type of lighting. I am not migraine free, but it really has helped me. I cannot say enough about these glasses–if they ever broke I’d feel like I’d be stuck at home until I got my new pair!

    Also, I haven’t found any scientific basis for this, but after wearing these glasses for 2 years now, I feel like my light sensitivity has lessened, and I don’t always need to wear them anymore.

    If you have more questions about this specific option definitely let me know.

    Hope this helps!

  • By Tara

    I’ve recently had the harsh neon bulbs taken out over my cubicle. It helps, but when I have a bad migraine, the lights outside my cubicle seem to brighten and invade my space.

    That’s not helpful, but adding my experience.

    I’ve tried sunglasses and a hoodie though with some headaches, the hoodie is too heavy for my head.

    I wish you luck!

  • By euse

    Thanks for all the tips and links so far! I have ordered a pair of indoor glasses from AxonOptics and will report back once I’ve worn them for a few weeks.

  • By Writermom

    Hey, Euse! I’m sorry to see your post such a long time after you wrote it. I’ll tell you what helped me. Since I always (for over 30 years) had to work under fluorescent lights, when my migraines became worse, I took to wearing wide-brimmed hats as a means of self-protection. Sometimes, if my headache was very bad, I wore my sunglasses, too. I didn’t get those optic glasses that these others have written about. My hats were very fashionable and really, they add so much to your look! They became my signature. So much so, that one day after I had transferred into my last job, all the girls wore hats that day, in my honor. Unfortunately, I had to leave because my husband became quite ill and I had to tend to him. But, that was such a sweet jesture. Also, at my retirement party, everyone who attended (and that was a lot of people) wore a hat in my honor, including my 3rd level manager. What a nice tribute and a sweet surprise! I still wear my hats when I leave home to go out anywhere, as there are those fluorescent lights and bright sunlight everywhere. And, of course, my sunglasses. These have been a wonderful help to me. And, I don’t buy expensive hats; just pretty ones. I am allergic to wool, so I can’t wear those felt winter hats. I always wear cotton or straw of some sort. I hope this might help you.

  • By Anonymous

    I would suggest asking your employer to remove a couple of the lights directly above your desk and using alternative lighting for your station. There are several people in my office who use this approach at their work stations. For me, the lighting is only problematic when I have a migraine coming on and my abortive medication has been helping recently so I have not yet needed to take this approach.

    Good luck.

  • By mogwai

    Probably a bit late now for this topic, but I was assessed by Access to Work a couple of years, an assessor came out from Capita Symonds and made a number of recommendations which included some simple things like, thermal blinds for blockingout natural and also some screen filters that eliminate screen glare. But to be honest the best thing that I was recommended is a thing called a SuperVisor, Ace Innovation Ltd it sits on my desk and blocks out the light from the ceiling lights.

    It made a difference to me straight away, not sure if it helps.

    My other issue now seem to be around the LED Lighting in the lifts at work, I have started to use the stairs as the lift lights were replaced about 5 months ago and I appreciate the energy efficiency properties but they are so piercing I find myself squinting whenever I have to use the lift. (I don’t have a head for caps ;-))

    There just doesn’t seem to be anyway to diffuse recessed LED lights…

  • By GardensatNight

    For me, LED lights are as bad as fluorescents. They cause a different type of pain–fluorescents feel like having acid poured in my brain, LED’s feel like being stabbed, and usually hurt on a delay, also causing nausea… but both trigger migraine just as readily.