Can Vision Therapy Help Migraines?

Migraine woman

Have you lost count of the things you've tried to reduce or prevent migraine pain? Although migraines are a particularly common condition, finding an effective treatment isn't always so easy. Over-the-counter pain medications may not be strong enough to combat migraine pain, yet prescription medications can cause unpleasant side effects.

Vision therapy offers a drug-free, completely natural method way to prevent the debilitating headaches. The therapy improves communication between the eyes and the brain and corrects vision issues that may play a role in migraines.

How Can a Vision Problem Cause Migraines?

Stress, both physical and emotional, is a common trigger for migraines. Headaches and migraines caused by physical stress can occur if your eyes don't work well together or you have difficulty focusing on words and objects. You may have these issues even if your vision is perfect or is corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Vision conditions that may increase your migraine risk include:

  • Convergence Insufficiency. The condition affects your ability to see words and objects clearly at close distances.
  • Amblyopia (Lazy Eye). Lazy eye occurs when central vision doesn't develop normally in one eye during early childhood. Blurry or double vision and poor depth perception are common symptoms of lazy eye.
  • Accommodative Problems. The clear lens in the center of your eye must make constant adjustments to ensure that you can see clearly whether you're reading a book or looking at the mountains in the distance. If your lenses can't keep up with the changes needed, focusing can be very difficult.
  • Eye Teaming Issues. Good vision relies on the ability of your eyes to work well together. When they don't, you may experience a variety of symptoms, ranging from blurred vision to eyestrain to headaches.

The type of work you do can also increase the frequency of your migraines. People who spend long hours working on computers often complain about dry eye and eyestrain, factors that can cause headaches. If you work under fluorescent lights, you may be even more likely to experience a migraine.

Harvard University researchers wondered why sensitivity to light (formally known as photophobia) triggers migraines and worsens migraine pain. During the course of their research, they discovered a previously undetected pathway in the optic nerve that may be responsible for the problem. When light is transmitted via the pathway, neurons in one part of the brain become activated and remain activated for about a half hour after the light is withdrawn. Light sensitivity and pain are the results of increased electrical activity in the neurons.

Preventing Migraines with Vision Therapy

After a comprehensive vision examination and discussion of your symptoms and medical history, your vision therapist will prepare a treatment plan that will help reduce your migraines. Your therapy may involve patches, tinted lenses, prisms, balance board activities, computerized games and activities designed to address your vision problems.

For example, if you have a lazy eye, you may play games on the computer that involve shooting at targets or participate in a Marsden ball activity. Marsden balls are small balls attached to the ceiling with string. As the balls move, you may be asked to identify the letters or colors you see or hit specific areas of the balls with a small bat.

Your vision therapist can also recommend a few changes you can make at home or at work to decrease the number of migraines you get. If light triggers your migraines or worsens them, he or she may recommend that you wear tinted glasses with F-41 lenses. Although people who have migraines often wear sunglasses to reduce light transmission, the glasses don't block the blue-green light that increases the electrical activity in your brain. Blue-green light is produced by digital screens, compact fluorescent lights, and the sun.

Wearing tinted glasses and participating in vision therapy activities are simple remedies that can decrease your reliance on medication and reduce the number of migraines your experience.

Would you like to find a natural way to deal with your migraine pain? Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive vision examination.


Review of Optometry: When Stress Strains Vision, 7/27/11

College of Optometrists in Vision: What is Vision Therapy?

Cleveland Clinic: Migraine Headaches

Harvard Gazette: Light Worsens Migraine Headaches, 1/11/10

National Headache Foundation: Light and Headache Disorders, 3/27/17


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