More than 25 million Americans suffer from migraine conditions, and most of them do something on a daily basis that is virtually guaranteed to bring on a headache episode. Many Americans stare at electronic screens at least once a day.
The 21st century has not been kind to migraine patients in the sense that it has increased our dependence on electronic displays. From doing work on your computer and looking at status updates on Facebook to playing video games and watching videos on smartphones, we have become glued to electronic screens. This does not bode well for migraine patients for a number of reasons.
Staring at a computer monitor for hours is a sure-fire way to bring on unpleasant headache episodes for migraine patients. Light-induced headache episodes are some of the most commonly reported by migraine patients, and even people who do not suffer from migraines are bound to get headaches when they stare at computer monitors for a long time.
Asthenopia, commonly known as eyestrain, is a condition that mostly affects people who correct their vision with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Eyestrain occurs when we get tired of looking at a screen for too long, and it can happen with computer monitors as well as with televisions, smartphones, portable video game systems, etc. Eyestrain is a migraine trigger like sinus infections in the sense that it affects a facial nerve that is known to provoke headaches.
Computer Vision Syndrome and Stress
Eyestrain combined with bad posture causes Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a condition that emerged in the late 20th century. Symptoms of CVS include tired, blurry and dry eyes, painful shoulders, stiff neck and headaches. CVS also creates mental stress, which can easily transform into a migraine episode.
Dealing with Computer Monitors and Migraines
Avoiding light-induced migraines starts with adjusting the display properties of computer monitors. The first adjustment should be the refresh rate, which is measured in hertz and can be controlled from the operating system. Higher refresh rates are recommended for migraine patients since it helps prevent eyestrain.
The next adjustment should be made on the monitor itself, and it involves setting the brightness, color and contrast to levels that are pleasant to look at. Modern LCD monitors have a number of preset view modes optimized for different on-screen content such as videos, games, spreadsheets, word processing, etc. Migraine patients can either choose from the preset view modes or spend some time fine-tuning and personalizing a vision profile that will not turn into a headache trigger.
When migraine patients feel a light-induced headache coming on, they will often think about retreating to a darkened bedroom and sleeping until the episode subsides. This reaction underscores just how important sleep and eye rest are for migraine sufferers who work in front of computer screens.
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