Who doesn’t love the summer time? For so many of us, it means enjoying the time outdoors, spending time with family and friends, and so much more, but it also can have perilous consequences for people with migraine—particularly as a result of bright sunlight. The sun can trigger migraine attacks and further enhance light sensitivity and other associated symptoms, making even a trip to the beach a challenging excursion.
One of the best ways to protect yourself against the summer sun is by wearing sunglasses, but how do you know what characteristics make for a quality and therapeutic pair? Here is some insight to choosing the right ones for you.
PolarizationMaybe you have heard of polarized lenses or polarized sunglasses. Polarization is an important feature of many outdoor eyewear products, specifically because it blocks reflective sunlight; it is this glare—off water, cars, roadways and other flat surfaces—which can be even more harmful than direct light, a fact confirmed by Dr. Vincent Martin, vice president of the National Headache Foundation, among others. Therefore, if you have any sensitivity to light (much less when it triggers migraine attacks), polarized sunglasses are a must.
FL-41 TintPeople in the migraine community are increasingly finding relief with FL-41-tinted eyewear. Validated by clinical research, this particular tint—often described as “rose” colored—filters the most harmful wavelengths of blue light. The research shows that these particular wavelengths (between 480-500nm), prevalent in sunlight, can trigger migraine attacks and photophobia for many.
Extra DarkIndividuals with particularly strong light sensitivity can explore “extra dark” eyewear options. For instance, we can custom tint TheraSpecs lenses so they are darker than our standard outdoor lens in order to offer an extra layer of protection for those who truly need it. Learn more about our "extra dark" lens option here.
Large Lenses and/or Contoured FramesHaving large or oversized lenses in your sunglasses may seem somewhat obvious (especially given that they are often a popular stylistic choice for consumers), but it is important to mention because we don’t always recognize the therapeutic impact they have. The fact is the larger the lenses, the more light they are likely to prevent from getting through. In addition, contoured or curved frames can also yield significant benefits by cupping the face and blocking sunlight from entering through the gaps near the top, bottom and sides.
LightweightA good pair of therapeutic sunglasses should also be lightweight. Many can attest that extra pressure or weight to the face can itself trigger migraines and actually enhance the symptoms during an attack. Thus, choosing a pair that minimizes this extraneous pressure is imperative. Sometimes lightweight frames are thought of as being cheap, but making the lightest weight and most comfortable frames possible actually requires choice materials and thoughtful design.
A Word of Caution
Maybe you have found your perfect pair of protective sunglasses or maybe you are on the search for them; regardless we have one word of caution: be mindful about wearing them indoors to guard against fluorescents or other harsh indoor lighting. Few realize that it can cause dark adaptation, which is the overall worsening of an individual’s sensitivity to light. Although temporary in most cases (e.g. going outdoors after sitting in a movie theater), it can become chronic if you wear sunglasses indoors regularly.
Learn the other ways in which common indoor and outdoor lighting can impact your health by downloading our free informational guide today!