Light Sensitivity Therapies for Vestibular Migraine and Dizzy Patients
- By Dizzy & Vertigo Institute
- November 30, 2021
By the nature of our digital lives, we’re all exposed to more blue light than ever. The longer you stare into those bright, glowing screens, the more you can feel the space right behind your eyes start to throb. Eventually, it builds to the point where you just want to blindfold yourself and escape all light.
Light sensitivity is no joke. It’s something we all experience to varying degrees. For some, it’s a random occurrence after a long day in front of a computer. For others, the mere thought of being in a room with bright fluorescent lights begins their symptoms.
While (vestibular) migraines and light sensitivity are very closely related, the majority of all our dizzy patients experience abnormal light sensitivity. This is because the Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex is vulnerable in most dizzy patients. This reflex is a communication channel between our eyes and vestibular system which helps us adjust our balance. So when that is off kilter, symptoms can often pile up.
Fortunately, there are therapies available to those with light sensitivity. Whether you feel light sensitivity is linked with your migraines or simply something you experience from time to time, there is a path to less symptoms.
Light Sensitivity Therapy
We want to first address Vestibular Migraine patients and some of the therapies they may consider. And then move on to more general advice that can help anyone.
For Vestibular Migraine patients
Migraines and light sensitivity is somewhat of a chicken-and-egg problem. Is the exposure to light triggering your migraine? Or is your migraine making it harder to be around bright lights?
In either scenario, you’re predisposed to migraines and need to work on managing them. At the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute, we deal specifically with Vestibular Migraine patients – a classification of migraines that brings about feelings of imbalance during an episode.
Our treatment of Vestibular Migraine involves a collaborative approach with your physician during medical management, combination of Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy, dietary changes, supplements, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. (More information on Vestibular Migraine treatment here)
Overall, providing therapy and lifestyle changes meant to alleviate migraines can have a great impact on lessening your light sensitivity.
Light avoidance. First, we’d like to address the elephant in the room. And that is the idea of avoiding light altogether. While this may be helpful during a severe episode, it’s not a behavior you should make a habit of. Wearing sunglasses indoors, keeping your shades drawn all day, or other light avoidance can lead you to become more dark-adapted. This means that your symptoms will be even worse when you are inevitably exposed to aggravating blue light.
Instead, opt for better light behaviors.
Screen behaviors. Limit your screen time and take periodic breaks to look at something that isn’t a screen every 20-30 minutes. Lower the brightness on your screen. Ensure that once the sun goes down your phone is switching over to a night mode with less blue light. Give yourself an hour before bed without screen time. Also, ensure that you’re using screens at eye level, eliminating bad posture and the resulting “tech neck” issues.
Migraine glasses. You might try using FL-41 tinted glasses or lenses, which block the blue wavelength of light. We know a lot of people that use them throughout the day in office settings and it really helps with the light sensitivity. AxonOptics and Theraspecs are respected brands.
In our office, we’ve had to make adjustments in how we administer our vestibular treatment.
The eyes play a big role in our balance. Often times, dizzy patients have a misalignment between what their eyes see as stability and what their vestibular system comprehends as stability. Therefore, treatment therapies often must address our eyesight in connection with our vestibular system. So we’ve made many adjustments to our VRT programs to ensure that we’re not straining our patient’s eyes as well.
If you’ve made these adjustments and are still not getting any better, it’s worthwhile to visit an ophthalmologist to see if there’s something more serious or chronic causing light sensitivity.
Overall, we felt it was necessary to address what we advise our dizzy patients when they suffer from light sensitivity alongside their dizziness problems. And we hope it may help you as well.
If you’re suffering from any sort of vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance issues, please reach out to us at (310) 954-2207 or by filling out our contact form.
We look forward to helping you!