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Keywords:

  • migraine;
  • headache;
  • vision;
  • tinted lenses

Optometrists frequently encounter patients with migraine and patients and practitioners sometimes suspect that visual stimuli or visual anomalies trigger headaches. There is a lack of evidence-based research on the issue, however. Some patients with migraine may be hypersensitive to visual stimuli, and it has been suggested that individually prescribed coloured filters might be an effective treatment to reduce symptoms from such stimuli. A recent randomised controlled trial showed such a treatment to be effective and the present paper reports on the optometric characteristics of the patients in this study. Twenty-one patients with neurologically diagnosed migraine were compared with 11 controls. No significant differences were found between the two groups with respect to refractive error, ocular pathology, colour vision, contrast sensitivity, accommodative function, strabismus and hyperphoria. The migraine group tended to be a little more exophoric, but by most criteria they were able to compensate for their exophoria as well as the control group. The migraine group were more prone to pattern glare than the controls (p=0.004). The effects of precision tinted and control tinted lenses were investigated. The only variable to show a consistent and marked improvement with tinted lenses was pattern glare. The most likely mechanism for the benefit from individually prescribed coloured filters in migraine is the alleviation of cortical hyperexcitability (Wilkins et al. 1994) and associated pattern glare.