Why light worsens migraine headaches?January 11th, 2010 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 11 (IANS) Why do migraine sufferers go into a dark room during an attack?
Scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) have identified a new visual pathway that underlies sensitivity to light (photophobia) during migraine in both blind individuals and in individuals with normal eyesight. This discovery potentially opens up new ways of addressing the problem of photophobia.
A one-sided, throbbing headache associated with a number of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, migraines are notoriously debilitating and surprisingly widespread, affecting more than 30 million individuals in US alone.
Migraine pain is believed to develop when the meninges, the system of membranes surrounding the brain and central nervous system, becomes irritated, which stimulates pain receptors and triggers a series of events that lead to the prolonged activation of groups of sensory neurons.
“This explains the throbbing headache and accompanying scalp and neck-muscle tenderness experienced by many migraine patients,” explains senior study author Rami Burstein, professor of anaesthesia at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School.
In addition, for reasons that were unknown, nearly 85 percent of migraine patients are also extremely sensitive to light, a condition known as photophobia, says a BIDMC release.
“Migraine patients may wear sunglasses, even at night,” he notes, adding that the dimmest of light can make migraine pain worse. Extremely disabling, photophobia prevents patients from such routine activities as reading, writing, working or driving.
These findings appeared in the Sunday online issue of Nature Neuroscience.
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