How to Lessen the Pain of Light Sensitivity (Photophobia)

There are various symptoms that come with fibromyalgia, but a common one is sensory sensitivity. Sounds are louder, smells are more potent, touch can be unbearable, taste is stronger, and lights are blinding. For the most part, there is little one can do about the sensitivities, but there is something you can do to help with light sensitivity. Melissa, from Fibro Warriors – Living Life , is sharing her solution to help with light sensitivity.

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How to Lessen the Pain of Light Sensitivity (photophobia) #lightsensitivity #photophobia #fibromyalgia #chronicillness
photo credit: stock image from Adobe Stock by Farina3000 and modified by Brandi, Being Fibro Mom

Looking Through Rose-Colored Glasses

I had fibromyalgia and several of “evil sidekicks” for almost 5 years when all of a sudden another “evil sidekick” a.k.a. overlapping condition decided to join the party.

My eyes had begun to hurt. The glare from the snow, the fluorescent lights (work & pool), computers (work & home), the street/car lights at night and the flickering light of the television all were having a greater effect on me. I found myself squinting or closing my eyes all the time. The light inside was too bright and the light outside was unbearable.

I began to wear my sunglasses at work and when I was taking my aqua classes at the gym.  It didn’t worry about what others would think. The people who knew me knew that I wore them because my light sensitivity had become so bad that it led to severe headaches and migraines.

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Then one night we were attending a parent sports meeting at the high school.  The overhead lights and the flickering of the monitor caused me to squint, my eyes were hurting and I could feel a headache starting. About half way through the meeting I had to reach into my purse and take out my dark sunglasses. To my surprise I was almost in tears. It really bothered me sitting in the room with all of these parents wearing my dark sunglasses.

I don’t hide the fact that I have Fibromyalgia and so many of it’s evil sidekicks; however, I want the choice to share or not share my condition. 

Photophobia: Light Sensitivity

I went to the optometrist to ensure nothing else was causing the light sensitivity.  He diagnosed me with Photophobia (light sensitivity). It is not uncommon for those of us with conditions such as Fibromyalgia to develop Photophobia. In addition to the condition being a possible cause even some of the prescriptions medications used to treat Fibromyalgia and M.E.(Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) list light sensitivity as a possible side effect.

Photophobia is not the only problem we face. The blue light that is found extremely high in computers, TVs, tablets and phones when exposed to it after sunset can disrupt the circadian rhythm, suppress our melatonin production and our sleep cycles.

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I began my search for a pair of glasses that would look like glasses but that would reduce the help keep the light out of my eyes and not look like I had been on an all nighter or lead to the nickname “Hollywood”.

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My only solution at the time was to have my optometrist custom make me a pair of glasses with no prescription tinted transitional lenses. It was not covered under insurance and they were very expensive. However, they at least looked like normal glasses and I could wear them at night when driving. They did help during the day to reduce the effects of the fluorescent lights and the computer but in the evening when I am on my computer for hours my eyes would still ache and I was still getting my headaches.

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Avoiding the TV, my computer and phone in the evening wasn’t going to happen so my next purchase was a very inexpensive pair of orange tinted sunglasses.  They were very effective at reducing the blue light but they look like safety glasses.

Axon Optics for Light Sensitivity

I was contacted in March by the Founder of Axon Optics offering me a free pair of their glasses in exchange for a review and sharing my thoughts and experiences with my readers.  “Axon Optics is an FL41 tinted eye glasses company to help those who suffer from migraines due to light related issues.” Ben Rollins

“Axon Optics is a high tech startup that was formed after a neuro-ophthalmologist, photonics researcher, and ophthalmic entrepreneur got together during the summer of 2010 to help people with photosensitive migraine using the latest research performed at the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center.”

I received an email from an Axon representative she asked me “Which frame would you like?  Indoor or outdoor tint?” I sent her the measurements written on the inside arm and on my nose piece of my custom made glasses.

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I was surprised at how nice they looked.  They sent me their Yala design which had Mocha Latte colored frames and rose colored lens. It was time to put them to the test. I have been using them for a month.  Before I used the Axon Optics glasses every day activities such as grocery shopping, going to the dentist, getting my hair done, blogging and driving at night that would cause such strain on my eyes leading to headaches that I would need to go home lay down in a dark room. The glasses made a big difference.  The rest of my body may be fatigued and hurting after going grocery shopping, driving/riding at night and sitting for a long time in front of my computer blogging but my eyes no longer feel the strain.  I occasionally go back to the orange tinted safety glasses when watching TV before going to bed but I can wear the rose colored glasses at work or going out to dinner and it isn’t so obvious that I have health issues.

I am often asked that with all of the pain and fatigue how can I be so cheerful or optimistic?

It’s simple. I choose to live my life seeing the world through rose – colored glasses (literally).

fibro warriors logo

About Melissa

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Melissa Swanson is a chronic pain patient, advocate, and author. Through her Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life Facebook page and blog, she offers positive encouragement, medical information, resources, and support to 17,000+ fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients. In addition, Melissa is a writer for ProHealth.com and team member at International Support Fibromyalgia Network.

ChronicPainDisorders.com and Healthline have both named Melissa’s blog as one of the Best Fibromyalgia Blogs. Healthline says, “This Blog has just about everything you need to read on the pain and exhaustion brought on by the illness. Look for treatments, must-reads, facts, and more. This married, full-time working mom is a true warrior against the debilitations of fibro.”

Melissa is a graduate of the Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training, sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, and the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute. She is a member of the Leaders Against Pain Action Network. Melissa works with clients as a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor helping them learn tools to live with the chronic illness fibromyalgia. If you’re looking for a cheerleader to be in your corner with a little bit of “tough love” when needed, Melissa is the one for you. She understands the struggles of trying to balance family life and work while living with the challenges of fibromyalgia and its evil sidekicks.

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Brandi

Hi, I’m Brandi, the writer and creator of Being Fibro Mom and My Fibro Journal. Aside from my work on Being Fibro Mom, I run a group called Fibro Parenting on Facebook. I've been writing for the Fibromyalgia Magazine since 2016 and recently became the Secretary and Fibro & Families program director for International Support Fibromyalgia Network. Facebook-+-Twitter-+-Instagram

One thought on “How to Lessen the Pain of Light Sensitivity (Photophobia)

  • July 25, 2019 at 7:58 am
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    Thank you first of all for the information. I not only suffer from fibromyalgia, but, from arthritis too. I suffer every day from all the symptoms of fibro and he stiffness and fatigue of arthritis, as i am 60 years old. I wish I could afford a pair of the tinted glasses for light sensitivity, but, cannot.

    Reply

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