Using glasses for migraine has been part of my work life for many years now. So I was very intrigued when Avulux asked if I would like to review their glasses and provide my honest opinion. I've seen many in the migraine community be so excited about their benefits for light sensitivity, so I was equally excited to test them out.
This review of Avulux migraine glasses was sponsored by Avulux and the glasses were gifted to me. All opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small sum for qualifying purchases. This is at no extra cost to you.
Want a peek of the range of glasses? Check out the Avulux site and be sure to use my code 'Throughthefibrofog' for $25 USD off your pair!
Managing migraine at work
I think many of us will attest to managing migraine and a work life as a tough experience. Dealing with pain, dizziness and so much more is hard at home, but even harder in the workplace. It can be incredibly difficult to pursue a career we are passionate about and wish to further, or let's face it, just earn money to pay the bills, all while feeling like we are juggling symptoms, triggers and medical appointments.
Triggers for migraine abound in the workplace. From harsh lights to noise to irregular eating times, so many aspects of the workplace environment can upset the sensitive migraine brain. And then of course there are deadlines, Zoom calls and all the stress that work can bring.
As I will talk about more, all these triggers underscore to me the importance of having a migraine toolkit. A bag (literally!) of items that can help manage symptoms in the workplace.
Light sensitivity and work: the problem of screens
Workplaces are incredibly difficult for managing a particular aspect of living with migraine: photophobia (light sensitivity). My previous workplace was a world of sensory overload in this regard. Harsh lighting combined with a huge window next to my desk and my computer screen felt like walking into a series of migraine triggers each and every day.
Now I am working at home, as many of us are these days. In some ways this is easier as triggers can be reduced and more easily managed. Curtains and blinds can be pulled, my lighting is softer and stress is lower due to not having to commute for several hours each day. Yet the computer screen is course always in front of me. In fact, it sometimes feels as though I am on it more. With in-person meetings shifted to Zoom calls, almost every moment of work is on my computer.
Computer screens, alongside our phones, tablets and all the other devices we own, are often problematic. As Friedman and De ver Dye describe, using a computer has been shown in numerous studies to aggravate headache (and other symptoms) for those living with migraine and chronic headache (2009). And who else is often juggling multiple screens - tapping on a computer with one hand and scrolling a phone with the other. Or is that just me?!
For me personally, light sensitivity can be a trigger for a migraine attack, particularly if my symptoms are already higher or other factors such as stress or poor sleep are also playing a role. The light of the screen makes me scrunch up my eyes, my forehead starts to crumple (even despite having Botox for migraine!) and everything starts to feel tense and painful. Those with migraine will know about eye strain and that all too familiar achy sensation that starts to build and lead to an attack.
Glasses for migraine: can they help?
Light sensitivity is prevalent amongst those living with migraine, and it has been found that up to 80% of us contend with this issue (Rasmussen et al. 1991).
Now I often thought of blue light as being the only culprit when it came to computer screens. It is this light spectrum that is often spoken about, and the main focus of other light blocking migraine glasses that use FL-41 lenses. Yet studies show that other colours can also increase migraine-related head pain, that is, red, amber and white light (Noseda et al. 2016). Only green light works to reduce migraine pain.
As an academic I am always intrigued by the science behind migraine products and this is where the Avulux glasses stand out in the marketplace. As well as blocking blue light in the typical range of 400nm to 450nm, they also block it in the upper 450nm to 500nm range at a higher rate than other blue light glasses. Importantly though, they also absorb up to 97% of amber light while allowing in soothing green light. Their migraine glasses have been clinically proven by three independent clinical trials to help individuals manage their light sensitivity and its associated symptoms (Avulux).
The aspect of allowing in certain bands of light is the most interesting feature of Avulux glasses to me. Years ago I always had sunglasses on at the first signs of bright light outdoors and sometimes indoors too. I thought that dark lenses would be helpful. Yet this can actually make us become more light sensitive as our eyes adapt (this was also spoken about by Prof. Deborah Friedman at the Migraine World Summit in 2021).
Allowing green light into our eyes can be beneficial. It's been shown to help calm and soothe the brain. Blocking all light isn't helpful. It's blocking certain bands of light that is.
Putting them to the test: my Avulux migraine glasses review
When I first received the Avulux migraine glasses two things struck me immediately: the cute shape of the frames and how lightweight they are. The latter is definitely important for me as the pressure of heavy glasses is a no-go for my sensitive migraine head!
Using them while working has shown that they help calm my brain (and eyes) and stop the tense feeling I often get in front of a screen. It's noticeable that my head feels like it has taken a little sigh of relief when I put them on, rather than the exact opposite of 'uptight' and aggravated as it usually feels. The glasses are easy to wear and there isn't a big colour distortion as there are with sunglasses.
One of the biggest benefits of using migraine glasses for me is their use as a preventative tool. There is 'growing evidence that even between migraine attacks, sensory abilities are disrupted in migraine' (Meylakh and Henderson, 2022). So even when I don't have an attack, it is likely that my migraine brain is more sensitive to light. Wearing Avulux migraine glasses means I can calm down my brain in front of the computer before an attack may come on (and hopefully prevent one), rather than only use them only as a means to manage symptoms if I have to continue to work.
It's important though to mention that the Avulux glasses aren't meant purely for use in front of the computer. Difficulties with light sensitivity have many sources, including overhead lights, lamps, bright sunlight, car headlights at night and more. Avulux can be worn throughout the day if you are sensitive to these and other sources.
Living with migraine can be challenging, and yet I find that medical professionals often overlook the importance that lifestyle 'tools' can have for us in day to day life. Migraine glasses are an integral aspect of my migraine toolkit. The Avulux migraine glasses don't require a prescription (although the optical lens is classified as a medical device in Canada, the UK and European countries), and can be used alongside other treatments and tools. It's as easy as having them next to your desk in the morning and slipping them on!
Avulux has kindly offered my readers $25 USD off their glasses with the code: Throughthefibrofog (affiliate code)
Friedman, D, (2021) 'Light sensitivity and therapy for migraine', The Migraine World Summit, 2021.
Friedman, D. and Van der Vye, T. (2009) 'Migraine and the environment', Headache: the journal of head and face pain, 49(6): 941.
Meylakh, N. and Henderson, L.A. (2022) 'Exploring alterations in sensory pathways in migraine', Journal of headache pain, 21(3): 5.
Rasmussen, B.K., Jensen, R. and Olesen, J. (1991) 'A population-based analysis of the diagnostic criteria of the International Headache Society', Cephalalgia, 11(3): 129-134.
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