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Why light makes your migraine worse

It has been common knowledge that light makes migraines worse, but no one quite knew why. A study now shows that a condition known as photophobia, or sensitivity to light, plays a big role. Scientists have identified a pathway between light and the misfiring neurons found in a migraine.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

It has been common knowledge that light makes migraines worse, but no one quite knew why. A study now shows that a condition known as photophobia, or sensitivity to light, plays a big role. Scientists have identified a pathway between light and the misfiring neurons found in a migraine.

According to scientists at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston have found a new visual pathway that underlies sensitivity to light during migraines. The real kicker: This light sensitivity appears in both blind people and those with normal eyesight during migraines.

Eighty-five percent of migraine sufferers are also extremely sensitive to light.

In the study, published in Nature Neuroscience, scientists found that signals transmitted from the retina to the optic nerve intensified pain. A graphic in the study walks through the light sensitivity analysis.

Scientists' experiments went like this: They injected dye into eyes of rats and then traced the path of cells through the optic nerve to the brain. A cluster of neurons became electrically active during a migraine. Add light to the model and pain intensified.

The hope: Discovering this pathway may allow future treatments to block it to prevent migraines.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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