Tinted glasses could make reading easier for some migraine sufferers, and may even reduce the number or severity of attacks they experience, according to new research.

People experiencing migraines are often sensitive to light, with some describing an aura – flashing spots and zig zags warning them a headache is coming.

The new study, looking at the lighting people feel most comfortable with when reading, has shown those susceptible to migraine with aura struggle with everyday lighting, but coloured tints could help.

Arnold Wilkins, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Essex and inventor of the Intuitive Colorimeter, the equipment used by opticians to decide which colour tint would benefit a patient most, explained: “Our study showed a physiological difference between individuals with migraine aura and those without.

“Those who experience migraine with aura chose strong colours, while everyone else preferred lighter shades – white and pale yellow or blue – the colours we regularly experience in everyday life.

“We found the sensitivity to everyday light could be reduced by using carefully-chosen coloured tints, and when these were used, people’s reading dramatically improved. They could complete a word search 40% quicker with coloured lenses than without.

“Reducing the trigger for migraines by using coloured lenses could reduce the number or severity of attacks. Coloured lenses could also help patients with other neurological conditions, such as autism and Tourette’s, but further research is needed”

Professor Wilkins worked with colleagues Amelia Aldrich and Paul Hibbard from Essex and Alexandra Vieira, who led the study, Ian van De Linde and Peter Bright, from Anglia Ruskin University.

The study was published in Headache.

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