The doctor’s office can be a blessing and a curse. It can be a place where a person seeks solace from or answers for the pain of migraine or other headache disorder, but unfortunately it can also be a place that aggravates their symptoms. In particular, harsh lighting gets a lot of attention; whether it is bright fluorescents in the waiting area or in patient rooms, it has the ability to trigger a migraine attack, intensify a fluorescent light headache, or simply make you feel worse. We look at a few strategies to help you minimize the harmful effect of this lighting.
Ask them to use incandescent or other ‘gentle’ lighting
Incandescent or warm white LED light bulbs arguably provide the best lighting for migraine sufferers because they both emit a warm glow with minimal blue light in comparison with fluorescents. Higher amounts of blue light have been shown by research to hasten migraine attacks. Asking your doctor turn off overhead fluorescents in favor of floor or desk lamps with these types of light bulbs would be a preferred alternative. Unfortunately, fluorescent lights are cheaper and more energy efficient, making them the lighting option for many offices (and emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, and hospitals) around the country, but it is still worth the ask.
Natural lighting could be an option as well, but you have to be cautious because certain patterns or contrast can ultimately lead to an attack. For example, the striped lighting patterns created by a window with its blinds open can be have equally negative consequences for a person with migraine as bright, direct light.
Wear special tinted glasses for fluorescent lights
If you are forced to endure it, then it may be time to invest in tinted glasses that block the part of fluorescent lights that cause the most pain. TheraSpecs, for example, have special lenses that use a precision tint for migraine relief that filters the most harmful wavelengths of blue light and also minimizes the invisible flicker of fluorescent bulbs. While other companies sell glasses for blue light, those aren’t specialized for fluorescent light and TheraSpecs block up to 25 as much of the most problematic wavelengths as other brands.
As a last resort, dark sunglasses can provide temporary relief in the doctor’s office. However, wearing them indoors regularly for preventative measures should not become a common practice because it can exacerbate light sensitivity for patients.
Have a wide-brimmed hat at the ready
It may seem obvious, but a wide-brimmed hat can offer extensive coverage from bright, overhead lighting. Finding a style that provides protection and appeals to your fashion sense (if that is important) can be immensely valuable during an appointment. A baseball cap might be an option, but it often is not as effective in blocking peripheral light or glare in the way a circular, wide-brimmed hat likely would. It is also important to recognize additional sensitivities from the added weight a hat can place on your head. We recommend exploring different styles to see what is most comfortable and effective for you.