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Migraine and Green Light: Allay Lamp Review

Photophobia can be experienced as the light is “too bright”, an increased sense of light, pain associated with any light, including sunlight. More than 80% of migraine attacks are associated with and exacerbated by light sensitivity, leading migraineurs to self-isolate. Personally, sunlight, fluorescent, and sometimes regular light cause pain and feel “too bright” for my eyes. I already use a blue light filter screen on my cell phone and laptop and try and keep the lights off as much as possible, but that is not enough. On most days, even when it’s cloudy, you will find me wearing sunglasses and on severe days, I am locked up in a dark room.

Recently, I listened to the Migraine World Summit and heard Dr. Rami Burstein speak on the Allay Lamp. The science was so fascinating, and photophobia is one of the main symptoms of my migraines, so I decided to order one.

Dr. Rami Burstein is a professor of anesthesiaat Harvard Medical School and vice chairman of research in the department of anesthesia, critical care and pain medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The Science

When you are exposed to light, your eyes take in the entire spectrum of light; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

In 2016, Dr. Burstein and colleagues demonstrated that in individuals who were blind, green light diminished migraine, while blue, amber and red light aggravated the migraine (Noseda et al., 2016). There was a specific connection that goes from the retina to the thalamus, that converges with neurons that are active during migraine.

 Migraine headache is commonly exacerbated by light (photophobia). Noseda, Burstein et al . show that green light alleviates the headache whereas blue, amber and red lights exacerbate it. Using electroretinography and visual evoked potentials in migraineurs and multi-electrode recordings in rats, they provide evidence that this colour-selective photophobia originates in cone-driven retinal pathways.
Noseda et al., 2016

A subsequent study (Nir et al., 2018) of migraine patients without visual impairment (69 participants, 41 completed), showed that out of all wavelengths of light, a narrow band of green light exacerbated migraine significantly less than all other colors of light. At low intensities green light can even reduce headache pain. Further, green light reduced pain by 20%.

Figure from the Nir et al., 2018. 
a) Proportion of patients with migraine during the ictal phase demonstrating increased pain after exposure to various colors of light and intensities. 
b) Proportion of patients with migraine during the initial onset of a headache after exposure to various colors of light and intensities. 
c) Proportion of health controls demonstrating new onset headaches after exposure to various colors of light and intensities.

He was able to isolate a natural band of green light. The allay lamp has a specific light bulb that emits just a certain wavelength that benefits people with migraine. Thus, the Allay Lamp was born. Note: going to the store and buying a green light bulb will not have the same effect.

Additional studies by Dr. Bernstein are linked below:

  1. Study of patients with and without migraine demonstrating that photophobia and the hypothalamic-medicated response to light produces a wide range of unpleasant sensations and emotions in patients with migraine.
  2. Explanation as to why patients with migraine feel light is too bright even when it is dim to those without migraine.

Allay Lamp Review

I have to admit I was initially skeptical. How could green light be beneficial for photophobia, pain, and migraine?

However, I was drawn to the modern, simple design. It comes with a shade to direct light where you need it most. It is easy to charge via USB and one charge lasts for 32 hours. It is lightweight so it’s easily portable. I’ve used it in the middle of the night to get medication without turning on my painful phone flashlight or overhead lights.

There are multiple intensities of green light, with a sliding option. I prefer the low intensity. You can flip the light over and have regular light, again with a slider for intensity.

Top of Allay lamp with on/off button and slider for intensity

It is recommended to use it as the only light you see, such as limiting screens and other lights as much as possible. I have used it both with and without technology.

While it has not relieved my migraine symptoms fully, it helps decrease my photophobia. I find the light takes the “pressure” off of my eyes – it is both soothing and relaxing. I’ve been able to read books with the green light, something I am struggle with using regular light – this is a huge improvement for me.

*This is not a substitute for medical advice. I was not given this product for free. All reviews are my own opinion*

Click here to save $25 off your own Allay Lamp!


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