Light and headaches

Migraines in blind people are made worse by light, according to Dr. Burstein and his associates at Harvard.  Rami Burstein is one of the leading headache researchers who often asks questions no one else thought to ask.  More importantly, he often finds the answers.  When he mentioned to me that he wants to find out why bright light makes headaches worse (so called photophobia), I immediately thought of a blind patient I was treating.  She was very interested in helping Rami discover the answer and helped him recruit many other blind migraine sufferers.  After several years of work, his finding were published today in Nature Neuroscience.  A recent discovery showed that in addition to rods and cones in the retina (cells that allow us to see), there are cells which react to light, but their input goes to non-visual parts of the brain.  These cells regulate sleep-wake cycle and, according to Rami Burstein’s research, also magnify pain perception in headache patients.

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