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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 18:57 GMT 19:57 UK
New hope for migraine sufferers
Glasses
Changes of colour could help some migraine sufferers
A device used to help children with reading problems could be used to ease life for migraine sufferers.

Trials led by a psychology professor at Essex University have shown that using coloured filters can help some people who get the debilitating headaches.

Many optometrists already recommend that some children who have trouble reading use tinted glasses.

Professor Arnold Wilkins said the system was based on the principle "stripes are bad for you".

Visual triggers

"Striped patterns and text can provoke what's called pattern glare."

Such glare means some children find words jump on the page, making it hard for them to focus.

"Many people who get migraines report visual triggers, such as bright lights.

"And many more are sensitive to bright lights during a migraine."

In 1992, Professor Wilkins helped develop a device which helps to analyse how coloured filters can help such children.

Patients look into a viewing chamber in which they can see illuminated text.

Coloured filters are then placed in front, and patients say which ones cut out the glare.

A computer programme then selects the best lens colour for each individual.

Headaches cut

It was during the research for this system - now widely used - that Professor Wilkins realised there could be a link with migraines.

"There were a lot of reports from the children of migraines in the family," he said.

"And many children said the filters reduced their own headaches."

Now, trials carried out in collaboration with researchers from City University, London, and the Institute of Optometry have shown an improvement for many migraine sufferers.

The results have been published in two medical journals.

Professor Wilkins hopes patients will soon be able to get glasses to suit them, to wear whenever they feel affected.

"I'm delighted that it's been so successful," he said.


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See also:

20 Jan 00 | Education
29 Jul 98 | Health
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