Photophobia has always been one of my worst migraine symptoms. Even between migraines, bright lights bothered me and could even trigger a migraine. Wearing high quality, dark sunglasses has been the only way I’ve been able to spend any time outside on a sunny day. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember.
Wearing good sunglasses outdoors is also important for eye health, but I’ve long wished that I could be outside and enjoy a sunny day for at least a few minutes without the sunglasses. Yes, I know, we so often wish for what we can’t have, even if it’s not absolutely essential.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent a couple of days in Morgantown, West Virginia, with Erica Sanderson, our HealthCentral site producer, and Jens Bishop, a HealthCentral videographer who has done some spectacular videos for some of the other sites on the HealthCentral Network. We were in Morgantown because that’s where my migraine specialist, Dr. David Watson is, and we were doing video and still photos for a migraine video project that will be finished soon.
The first day I was there, we spent some time at the West Virginia University Headache center getting video and stills with Dr. Watson. The next morning, Erica, Jens, and I headed to gorgeous Cooper’s Rock State Park to continue. That location was chosen because I love being in places like Cooper’s Rock, where I can enjoy nature, take photos, and relax.
It was also at Cooper’s Rock that I made an astonishing and very, very welcomed discovery. Of course, I had my sunglasses, but I knew that the video and photos would be better if my eyes weren’t behind them. So, as soon as I got out of the car and headed for the outlook where we were working, I took off the sunglasses and put them in my backpack. I didn’t expect that to last more than five or 10 minutes, but I was able to be out in the sun without the sunglasses for about 90 minutes without squinting or severe light sensitivity, and without the bright light triggering a migraine! I think we were all astonished. I know we were all quite pleased.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you this story. No, it’s not to make you envious. It’s to share this great news, to share how this happened, and to give hope and encouragement to my fellow migraineurs. It’s also to give credit where credit is due. In this case, credit goes to my wonderful migraine specialist, Dr. David Watson, and my preventive regimen, particularly Botox.
After my second Botox treatment, I noticed that I was less sensitive to light between migraines. This is something I first noticed when the bright lights in my dentist’s office were far easier to tolerate. As is often the case with Botox, the reduction in both the frequency and severity of my migraines, as well as the light sensitivity between migraines got better and better with each Botox treatment through the first three or four treatments, then leveled off. Botox helped Dr. Watson and me reduce the frequency of my migraines from 25 the month before my first treatment to eight a month. The bonus of reduced light sensitivity was something I hadn’t expected, but that doesn’t make it less wonderful. I’ll continue to wear good sunglasses when I’m out in the sun because our eyes should be protected. Still, it’s amazing and wonderful to realize just how much my light sensitivity has been reduced.
I’ve had migraines for more than 50 years now, and they’ve gone back and forth between chronic migraine and episodic migraine for the last 25 years. I’m in fairly good shape with my treatment regimen, but know that will probably change at some point. If that happens to you, please remember that there is hope. If your doctor has run out of ideas, there is nothing at all wrong with getting a second opinion from another doctor, perhaps a migraine specialist. Sometimes, it just takes a fresh approach to make a huge difference.
More Helpful Information:
- Hope Is an Essential Element of Migraine Management
- 10 Common Migraine Myths
- 10 Ways to Keep HOPE Alive with Migraine - Infographic
_Please join us for the 2015 AHMA Patient Conference on June 21, 2015. _
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.