Thursday, April 8, 2010

Light Noise

I have long known that light effects me. Light noise is one of my biggest triggers and light effects me so severely, that I wear my sunglasses both outdoors and in. When I have a migraine I MUST have a dark space to go to even if I already have my sunglasses on. When I feel the onset of a migraine, I head for my cave to rest.
"This instinct may be sound: A new study suggests that even without the headache, migraine sufferers may process visual cues better in an environment with few visual distractions. In an article from, Migraine Sufferers: More Difficulty Tuning Out Visual Stimuli? “In a study published in the April issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (“Visual Noise Selectively Degrades Vision in Migraine”), researchers from Scotland’s Glasgow Caledonian University  asked migraine sufferers to pick out a small disk of light amid visual noise, an effect similar to the black-and-white snow on an off-air television. Without the visual noise, people prone to migraine could identify the light disk about as well as the control group. When the noise was added, migraine sufferers (“migraineurs”) performed significantly worse.”
Somewhere around a third of migraine sufferers experience neurological disturbances before a migraine starts. Auras are usually visual in nature and may appear as glimmering lights or wavy patterns that move across the field of vision. The study, done by lead researcher Doreen Wagner, Diplom-Ingenieur (FH) of Optometry, PhD student in Vision Science, showed that migraine sufferers with auras were the most adversely affected by the addition of visual noise.

Wagner said a current theory about migraines is that nerve cells in the brain of migraineurs are excitable and when exposed to certain triggers, the increased excitability may cause whole clusters of nerve cells to become overactive, similar to a spasm, and bring on the headache. In this study, “We believe that the noise on the display overexcites the nerve cells in the brain of the migraineurs. This in turn makes it harder for a migraineur to see the disk.”

“It might be helpful to avoid such ‘noisy’ environments which may impair their performance, scenes overloaded with visual distracters, for example computer screens and learning tools which have a lot of visual information on them.” she said."
 It makes sense to avoid light noise or visual distractions, in our daily lives. Especially if this is as much of a migraine trigger for you as it is for me. I just don’t think I can give up my computer, although I can;
  • Adjust the brightness/contrast on my computer monitor.
  • Take frequent breaks to prevent eyestrain.
  • Look away from the monitor to a point in the distance and back, in order to lessen strain.
  • Use software to transcribe my posts to the computer.
  • Set my screen background to a simple clutter free picture that uses darker colors.

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