The Quick Headache Fix No One Told You About

Earlier this year I noticed that I was getting migraine-like headaches. None of the normal triggers were present like red wine or extreme stress so it had me baffled. Turns out it was Digital eye strain from too much computer time. (DES) describes a cluster of symptoms related to the use of digital devices for a long period. Symptoms include:

  • headache
  • dry eyes
  • sore or tired eyes
  • blurry vision
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • sensitivity to light

Computer screens, laptops, tablets, and cell phones can all cause digital eye strain. Each of those devices also emits blue light. This connection has led some researchers to wonder whether it’s the blue light that causes digital eye strain.

Researchers have suggested blocking all wavelengths of light except green light during a migraine, and some have reported that sensitivity to light decreases significantly when using blue light-blocking eyeglasses.

Can blue light trigger migraine attacks?

Photophobia, an extreme sensitivity to light, affects around 80 percent of people who have migraine attacks. The light sensitivity can be so intense that people can only get relief by retreating to dark rooms.

Researchers have found that blue, white, red, and amber light worsen migraine pain. They also increase throbbing and muscle tension. In this study, blue light activated more neurons (the cells that receive sensory information and send it to your brain) than other colors, leading researchers to call blue light the “most photophobic” type of light. The brighter the blue, red, amber, and white light, the more intense the headache became.

It’s important to note that while blue light may make a migraine worse, that’s not the same as causing the migraine. Recent research shows that it might not be the light itself that triggers a migraine. Instead, it’s the way the brain processes the light. People who are prone to migraines may have nerve pathways and light receptors in their eyes that are particularly sensitive to light.

Remember, when working on a computer, take frequent breaks every 20 minutes, blink frequently to keep your eyes lubricated and try using blue-light blocking glasses to reduce headaches.