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New Eyeglass Lens Technology Offers Relief for Migraine Patients

New Eyeglass Lens Technology Offers Relief for Migraine Patients

May 31, 2024

This spring, individuals grappling with migraines find relieve with a novel solution for managing light sensitivity, thanks to new eyeglass lens technology developed by a physician-scientist at the University of Utah John A. Moran Eye Center.

The Impact of Migraine

Migraine headaches, a leading cause of disability affecting approximately 47 million working-age Americans annually, disproportionately impact women, who are four times as likely as men to experience them. These debilitating attacks, often triggered or worsened by light sensitivity, can disrupt career and family life, inflicting pain, nausea, and emotional distress.

A Decade of Dedication: Developing Therapeutic Solutions

Dr. Bradley J. Katz, a neuro-ophthalmologist and scientist at Moran Eye Center, recognizes the widespread impact of migraines, stating, "Whether it’s yourself, a friend, or a family member, we all know someone who has sought out a dark room to try to deal with the symptoms of migraine. I have seen these patients in my practice over the past 29 years, and as a researcher, I have worked to understand light sensitivity in order to develop therapies that can help improve their quality of life."

Research indicates that approximately 80 percent of migraine patients experience light sensitivity during attacks, with 49 percent ranking it as their most bothersome symptom. However, not all wavelengths of light contribute equally to this issue. Intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, specialized cells in the eye, are most activated by specific wavelengths of light at the blue-green and red-orange ends of the visible spectrum, with green wavelengths being the most comfortable.

While FL-41 tinted lenses have been available for years, Dr. Katz notes their limitations. While they predominantly filter blue light, they fail to address the red-orange wavelengths crucial for alleviating light sensitivity. Additionally, wearers perceive the world through a rose-colored hue.

Precision in Light Filtering: Avulux Migraine & Light Sensitivity Lenses

Over a decade of collaboration with colleagues and industry partners has resulted in the development of Avulux Migraine & Light Sensitivity Lenses, a next-generation solution. These lightly tinted lenses effectively block higher percentages of problematic light wavelengths while transmitting more comfortable ones, allowing wearers to perceive colors normally.

Dr. Katz anticipates that up to 80% of migraine patients will experience reductions in both light sensitivity and headache severity with Avulux eyeglasses. Notably, these lenses are the first to have undergone clinical trials and received FDA confirmation for classification as general wellness tools, offering hope to migraine sufferers seeking non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Accessibility and Further Validation

The lenses, designed by University of Utah Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Steve Blair, PhD, are now available online and through select retailers, with or without a prescription. They will also be accessible at Moran Eye Center optical shops starting in July.

Further validating the efficacy of Avulux, Kaiser Permanente is conducting a separate clinical trial to evaluate the lenses' effectiveness and their potential to reduce medication usage during migraine episodes.

Dr. Katz concludes, "I have worked to develop non-pharmaceutical approaches to the treatment of migraine as I have increasingly encountered patients who are looking for treatments that do not involve prescription medications or procedures. I hope this provides another useful tool for people living with migraine."