Dark Tinted Contact Lenses helped my Migraine Patient

On May 6th, 2012, posted in: Our Doctors' Blog by | 47 Comments

I am posting an article written by a patient of mine whom I recently fit with Prosthetic Dark – tinted contact lenses for migraines. Very interesting and exciting stuff. Feel free to read her story.

Prosthetic Tinted Contact Lenses

Photophobia, or light sensitivity, is an intolerance of light. Sources such as sunlight, fluorescent light and incandescent light all can cause discomfort, along with a need to squint or close your eyes. Headaches also may accompany light sensitivity.

Light-sensitive people sometimes are bothered only by bright light. In extreme cases, however, any light can be irritating.

Hemiplegic Migraine (HM) is a rare neurological disease, that is episodic in nature. When a patient is not in an HM episode, they look like any normal healthy person. HM is a rare form of migraine with aura that involves significant motor weakness. When a person is exposed to a trigger, an individual can experience episodes of prolonged aura, hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body), fever, symptoms of meningitis without the actual illness, impaired consciousness, headache, defective muscle coordination, nausea or vomiting, photophobia, and photophobia. 2 Photophobia can act as a trigger as
well as an irritant to the HM episode itself.

I suffer from both Hemiplegic Migraine and photophobia.

It is difficult for most people to understand how limiting life can be when you have photophobia. It is difficult to work in a professional establishment as the lighting in offices, hospitals, and stores need to be bright for others to function.

When I worked in the hospitals all the hallways were bright, and drapes were always open. It looked cleaner and more sanitary that way. Even when I worked in the office setting, everything was very bright. But these lights would cause constant squinting and blinking which would then cause tension to my facial muscles, causing tension to my neck muscles, thereby causing the headaches, which could lead to a Hemiplegic Migraine attack. I would also experience pain to the left side of my eye with exposure to
bright lights.

In my home, almost every room is dark and all the curtains are closed. I have difficulty driving at night due to the glare of oncoming headlights, and the LED lights, which are becoming more popular due to its energy efficiency, are especially worse. But during those special occasions when I have family and friends over, all the lights are turned on to make everyone more comfortable, and I try to suffer through it the best I can.

So I finally asked my eye doctor if there was anything I could do to decrease the sensitivity to my eyes. I told him that I did not do very well with sunglasses because I did not have much of a bridge on my nose and they seem to constantly fall off, or else I am always adjusting them. I also become quite dizzy from sunglasses due to my other diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease. I also hated wearing sunglasses at grocery stores and in the house, because it made me feel embarrassed and self conscious.

So, wondering if sunglasses were my only option in life, I contacted my eye doctor Dr. Brad Kaster from Kaster Eye Clinic to see if I had any other viable options…

[Please visit www.kktints.com for information about the contact lenses used in relieving Rosettes photophobia.]

Now, with my contacts, I can go outside without sunglasses. My kitchen curtains are gone, and all the drapes are open in all my rooms. I look at the light and it doesn’t hurt. I don’t squint or blink constantly like I used to. I can drive at night without the fear of getting into an accident. The numbness and heaviness I feel to the left side of my body when exposed to sunlight is lessened as soon as I insert my contacts.

I have been able to minimize at least one of the triggers that can cause an HM attack and for that I am very grateful. I can honestly say that it has made my life so much better. Many thanks to Dr. Kaster and to the staff at Kaster Eye Clinic.

Dr. Brad P. Kaster, O.D.

Written by Dr. Brad P. Kaster, O.D.

Since he first started practicing optometry in 2005 , Akron Optometrist, Dr. Brad P. Kaster, has quickly gained attention as a trusted eye care professional in the northeast Ohio area. In 2015, he opened Kaster Eye Clinic in Green, Ohio. Dr. Kaster is a graduate of both Ohio University in Athens, OH, and The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He is a proud member of the American Optometric Association, and is also active in the Portage Lakes community by volunteering with the Polar Bear Club and Community Council.

Website: https://kastereyeclinic.com




47 Responses to “Dark Tinted Contact Lenses helped my Migraine Patient”

  • Avatar Kris McCarthy says:

    Thank you so much!!! I have terrible photophobia and have to wear sunglasses all day from sun up to sun down, indoors or out. Light has been my biggest migraine trigger and the resulting pain in my eyes is so sharp I have to close them. So its either wear the sunglasses or I can’t work because of terrible migraine pain. I used to wear the Max Sight contact lenses from Nike/Bausch and Laumb and I was so upset when they stopped selling them. I have been unable to find anything comparable since until this article. You have given me hope! Thank you so much and god bless!

  • Avatar ingrid says:

    I just read the article and i am in shock because a lot of the symptoms that the article talks about my son gets them but unfortunetly your offices are to far from where i live could you refer me to any doctors near miami florida that could help
    I would apreciate it a lot

  • Avatar Lisa says:

    I have had migraines for about 20 yrs. A year and a half ago, I suffered a severe concussion. Two of my most residual affects are dizziness and fatique. One of my conditions is insufficient convergence of the eyes Recently, I have been wearing sunglasses all day to help abate the symptoms. This has worked miracles for both my concussive symptoms as well as my migraines. Interesting? I took the hit right near my optical nerve. Which makes me wonder how my eyes were affected and since I have an eye disease prior (kerataconus)… Were my migraines originally from the strain on my eyes?? Photophobia? Open to ideas!

  • @ Lisa

    Migraines could be triggered by just about anything…and the eyes are often overlooked. Photophobia we’ve known about for years as a cause for inducing migraines. Interestingly I have been to lectures in the past couple years that discuss how eye teaming issues (and a perfect example would be convergence insufficiency) can cause migraines. There have been some cases where eye doctors have completely resolved migraines in their patients by prescribing prism in their glasses so the eyes work together properly. In your case I doubt that keratoconus would trigger a migraine unless its causing uncomfortable glare to your vision. If you’re tired of wearing sunglasses all day – and If you dont have to wear rigid gas permeable lenses for your keratoconus – you could try the darkly tinted soft contacts to help relieve your symptoms…. Thanks for responding. Dr. K.

  • Dr. Kaster,

    Some one posted this article on the Hemiplegic Migraine Foundation website. Thank you so much for this aritcle! I have severe and chronic Hemiplegic Migraines daily, all day long to varying degrees. Photophobia is one of the many symptoms and can cause my migraines to worsen. I had no idea these contacts were available and I don’t think my neurologist does either. I plan to get these asap. If I can eliminate or lessen even one symptom, especially one that effects me so badly, it would make a difference in the quality of my already diminished life! Thanks again!

    Rose Howerton

  • Avatar Sonia says:

    This is fantastic!
    I actually get really ill under flourescent lights and it’s insane how much folks use those lights now.

    i am hoping to look into this further as I am out in BC….

  • Avatar Brian Dabrowski says:

    i have been getting headaches from too much light for as long as I can remember. I used to be referred to as the kid that wore sunglasses back in high school. My job requires me to do a lot of driving and I could never seem to find a pair of sunglasses with the right amount of tent. it wasn’t until I was wearing two pairs of sunglasses at the same time that I realized there has to be a better solution. after searching the Internet I found this blog and contacted his office. Even though he was 2 1/2 hours away from my house I felt this was the best solution I have found. Dr. Kaster was able to find me a solution that exceeded my expectations. I wear the contacts every day and my only regret is not finding this solution sooner. Thank you Dr. Kaster for all your help.

  • My symptoms are very similar, but i also experience hazyness in the light and must wear a hat and sunvisor when driving, night time driving was horrible. I have a pair of the blk tinted lenses and they have improved me to the point of no hat or sunvisor and night driving isnot scary anymore, but, the contacts are very expensive. I am goint to try and have my Doctor get in touch with Eye Yech of Green. Thank you and God Bless You.

  • Avatar wendy says:

    Another option is Alden Optical in NY. They have been handling my contacts for years but will deal only with eye care pro’s, not individual patients.

  • Avatar kcc says:

    How much are these contact lenses? The Annual one?

  • @ kcc

    They retail for around $100 each

  • Not bad – this would certainly help me since I live in arizona.

  • Avatar Kim Eith says:

    Hi, I’m very interested in getting additional information in what may offer some hope and relief. As a daily migraine sufferer, light is one of my biggest triggers. My question has to do with glare. As most others have noted, I wear my sunglasses daily, and often indoors as well as outside. I must have the polarized lenses to protect against the glare. I am curious if the colors used in these contacts have been found to provide an adequate or equal protection for the issues associated with glare. The biggest challenges are evenings and indoor lighting. I have gotten used to wearing my shades to most places such as the mall, grocery stores, Starbucks, etc. However, there are times when inconvenience becomes a bit burdensome. As a member of the music ministry, it is important not be affected by the glare of the bright lights. Unfortunately, I’ve had to resort to my sunglasses because until now, there has been no alternative, I’d love to know if this is truly a viable solution and how and where I may be able to get additional information. Thank you so much. Danville, VA

  • @ Kim Eith

    Unfortunately I have struggled to find much research on the topic of tinting contact lenses for medical reasons such as photophobia. In my personal experience I’ve had mixed but mostly positive feedback from my patients that experience strain or discomfort from glare. For the most part, patients have been able to greatly reduce the need for sunglasses indoors and / or doubling up on sunglasses when outdoors. Typically that alone makes the glare issue much more manageable.
    Talk to your eye doctor about fitting you with tinted contact lenses. I use a lab called Specialty Tint out of California – They come in 3 basic shades of a custom brown color mixture (20 minute tint, 30 minute tint, or 40 minute tint) with 40 being the darkest. Most folks do well with the 20 or 30.

    Hope this helps

    Dr. Kaster

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    Dr Kaster,
    I came across this page as I was looking in to purchasing sport tinted contacts by Marieta. I suffer from (almost daily) Chronic Migraine with Aura. I’m currently on Botox, Topamax, propranalol and antriptyline for my preventives. I started back to school this semester and between the florescent lights, black writing on the white board and all the computer work I’m maxing out on my allowed weekly abortives, causing my neurologist to want to up my dosages and add depakote. How would I go about purchasing this contacts? Any further information would be GREATLY appreciated!

  • Jennifer,
    Talk to your eye care provider about having them fit you with the tinted contact lenses. Many doctors do not have any experience fitting these kinds of contacts, but the fitting process is very similar to any other contact lens. In fact, I had never fit anyone with these until the author of this article approached me with the idea. After a couple phone calls with some contact lens labs I was able to order in a pair and had her fitted within a couple weeks.
    If photophobia is one of your migraine triggers, I’d hope this option could bring you relief rather than relying on increased medications. The lab that I order my tinted contacts through is Specialty Tint out of California.
    Another ocular trigger could be poor eye teaming or “stereopsis”. If closing one eye helps your symptoms, have your doctor perform a thorough binocular vision exam. Hope you found this helpful!
    Dr. K

  • Avatar Renee says:

    Hi. I am so thankful I found this website! I have been struggling and suffering with photophobia for years, since elementary school (I’m 39 now), have seen several eye doctors over the years, and each one says my eyes look fine. So frustrating!! The only solution I ever hear is to wear sunglasses. It just isn’t practical to wear sunglasses indoors and it can make a person feel self-conscious as well. I, too, am very sensitive to indoor lights as well as outdoor.

    I live in MN and plan on calling around to find an eye dr. who is willing to look into this or knows about colored contacts for photophobia sufferers. If you know of someone near the Twin Cities please let me know. Thank you!

  • Avatar Renee says:

    I have hazel eyes. How much do the prosthetic contact lenses change the color of your eyes? Thanks

  • Avatar Jo Robinson says:

    I had to stop wearing contact about a year ago due to Meniere’s Disease and Migraine Associated Vertigo. It’s hard to tell which one is giving me fits. I have Always felt that fluorescents were a big contributor to my migraines even as far back as 30+ years ago. I just ordered a pair of fl-41 tinted glasses from the University of Utah and am on my third day wearing them. When I have them on, I have none… ZERO dizziness. Would love to find out if at sometime down the road I could wear contacts again. I have bookmarked this page. Thanks for the info.

  • Fair warning – The lenses do darken your eyes quite a bit. They would probably make yours look medium to dark brown.

  • Avatar Donna says:

    Not a mention of computer screen light here. I wonder if it is a big trigger source too.

  • Avatar Kayla says:

    Hi Dr. Kaster,
    Thank you for all the invaluable information you’re providing.
    As per your previous comment about the lenses darkening one’s eyes- I have dark brown eyes to begin with. Would these lenses make my eyes look unnaturally dark and sort of demonic? I think these lenses could increase my quality of life, but I’m worried they will look strange and I’ll be too self-conscious to wear them.
    Any feedback is most appreciated!

  • Great post! Been reading a lot about getting contacts. Thanks for the info here!

  • Hi Donna,
    Computer screens can definitely be a migraine trigger. Thankfully, with the increased use of flat screens this is becoming less of a problem. The old tube monitors refresh or flicker several times per second. A slow refresh rate used to cause eye strain and headaches. However if general photophobia is a trigger from any light source – flat screens can still be a problem. One of my patients is had to wear sunglasses at his computer before I fit him with tinted contacts.

    Thanks for the post..

    Dr. K.

  • Hi Kayla,

    One of my staff members wears them when she has a migraine. She has fairly dark eyes. I believe she used the same phrase that you did in describing her eyes as “demonic” after inserting a pair of medium-tinted contact lenses. The tinting lab did a lightened version for us that doesn’t darken the look of her eyes nearly as dramatically.


    Dr. K.

  • Hi Renee,

    Sorry about the late reply I got locked out of my own website admin page for a few weeks there. The amount of iris color change resulting from the tinted contact lenses depends on what level of tint they use. I should say that even our lightest tints do darken them a good amount still. You would be a brown-eyed girl with these on :)

    Dont know anyone in the twin cities area – in Wisconsin John McDaniel and Tori Flood are both good with contacts..


    Dr. K.

  • […] Today I found this article. I want to save it to take to my Eye doc next time. I HATE wearing classes, but regular contacts make lights just to bright that I haven’t been able to wear them at all. http://eyetechofgreen.com/eye-doctors-blog/dark-tinted-contact-lenses-helped-my-migraine-patient/ […]

  • Avatar Sara says:

    Thank you!! I asked my ophtamologist about this around 1.5-2 years ago. I have to wear prescription glasses. I use to wear contacts, but anyone who wears regular contacts can tell you that modern water-based contacts intensify the light rays & so with my Chronic Migraine Syndrome, I had to switch to glasses because my photophobia had become too severe.

    Now I’m going to take your article in hand to my next appointment to see what we can do to find contacts to help. I do not do well with glasses at all and would love to go back to contacts. In addition, I need something I can wear in doors and out. Thanks again!

  • […] Today I found this article. I want to save it to take to my Eye doc next time. I HATE wearing classes, but regular contacts make lights just to bright that I haven’t been able to wear them at all. http://eyetechofgreen.com/eye-doctors-blog/dark-tinted-contact-lenses-helped-my-migraine-patient/ […]

  • Avatar Lainey Beier says:

    Hi. I’m a 20 yr old college student currently living in St. Joseph Missouri. In the past year or so my vision has changed dramatically. At 18 and even up to around my 19th birthday, I could see flawlessly. But, now I am plagued constantly by floaters, flashes, star bursts, after images, and light sensitivity. I have migraines which are nearly painless, save for some tension on my right side. Although, during these migraines I lose most of the vision in my left eye for up to 40 minutes.
    I have been to 2 eye doctors in town and they say my eyes are clear other than mild floaters, which they are unworried by. They have failed to explain my star bursts, light sensitivity and other symptoms. And so, I have resigned myself to living beneath dark lenses.
    I feel like I’m always hiding and I get this a lot; “Hey… Oh Lainey… didn’t recognize you under those glasses.” I have an urge to scream “I can’t see right… I’m not wearing these by choice!” But, then I remember that people don’t want to hear about my problems.
    I just started school again

  • Avatar Lainey Beier says:

    I am majoring in studio art and trying to do my best; though I am unsure of what the future holds for my vision. A pair of these contacts would help considerably for the time being. Sorry about the length of this post. Any advice at all about treatment or who to consult would make it worthwhile. Thanks so much for your patience.

  • Hi Lainey,

    Sounds like you’re getting chronic ophthalmic migraines. Its difficult to determine what may be triggering these. One consideration is diet. Even foods that are considered “super foods” to most people such as kale or avocados can react in a negative way in someone who is sensitive to those foods. If you have dramatically increased some food item in your diet over the past year then try eliminating that for a while. Other causes could be phsical alignment and a chiropractic visit may benefit you etc.

    Fitting custom tinted contact lenses is not a common practice in many eye clinics. You may have to ask your current doctor if he is willing to set up an account with a lab and order some in with you. Otherwise try to locate a local practice that claims to do “specialty” contact lens fittings.

    Hope this helps.

    Dr. Kaster

  • Avatar Danielle says:

    I received my first set of tinted contacts back in September this year and haven’t looked back! I have a heavily brown tinted contact sense for an un-diagnosed problem with my left eye since Nov 2012. Since then I have been left with severe photophobia and constant use of sunglasses became not only a daily nuisance and a problem in the workplace too, got told (due to working on customer services/tills) that I was not allowed to wear my sunglasses due to the appearance it gave the customers of the store. After many months of doctors appointments, one after the other I decided to go to my local opticians (vision express) to see if they could help, they were very friendly and told me that a company can make personal tinted lenses in any colour that eases the pain, for me it was brown, (the colours came in red, blue, grey and black? If I remember correctly) it cost £130 for a 12 month/annual lens and took around 10 working days to be delivered to store. It’s costly, but if you break it down into what you’d pay each month for it, it works out at a reasonable price.

    If anyone is thinking of ditching the sunglasses for a little more comfort, I would seriously consider this as an option, it’s helped build up my confidence, feel much happier and in much less pain!

  • Avatar Amy says:

    Dr. Kaster,

    I have been plagued by migraines with light sensitivity for most of my 50+ years. I have light blue/green eyes and very light skin (I’m a redhead). The light hurts my eyes even when my eyes are closed–it goes right through my skin and into my eyes like a dagger. I always wear sunglasses outside (sometimes doubling/tripling up with large goggles over all), but rarely inside. Over the years, in an effort to keep indoor light sources (ceiling lights and windows mainly) out of my field of vision, I developed a very bad habit of tilting my head down constantly, which puts a great deal of strain on the muscles in my neck. As a result, I now also have chronic neck and upper back pain, which exacerbates the frequency and intensity of my migraines. I am working with pain specialists and physical/occupational therapists in pursuit of non-drug treatment options, and am considering tinted contact lenses. Perhaps tinted lenses will provide relief for the pain in my eyes (directly), and head/neck/back (indirectly). Just thought I’d share in case you hadn’t already made the connection between light sensitivity and neck/back pain. Might be an interesting study. Thanks for all you do! ~Amy

  • Avatar Macie says:

    I have very bad light sensitivity due to chronic migraines which has increased over several years after two injuries to my neck. I am wondering about Axon contacts verses these other labs. The concern I have with Axon is they have only one level of tint and I’m worried that it might not be strong enough. The convenience in ordering may not be worth it if the tint is too light. Do you have any advise?

  • I have photophobia from brain injury from bad car accident in 3/4/2013. I live in the Northern VA area and I wanted to know how can I get these contacts to help me out. Can someone please assist me. Thank you.

    Jillian Berliner

  • Avatar cindy alarco says:

    I have been getting horrible migraine headaches for about 2 years now my neurologist prescribe me topamax for my migraines… it helps but when I’m in a room with fluorescent lighting my migraines are horrible.. and I have noticed for the past 6 months my eyes have been going down hill fast. A friend of mine told me they read some where that topamax can be bad on a pesos eyes…. I wonder if these would help me?

  • Hi Cindy. The therapeutic tinted contact lenses are now easier for your eye care professional to obtain and fit. Have him visit http://www.kktints.com for more information. Thanks for the post.
    P.S. There is some evidence that Topamax may cause visual field defects. I have not seen this in my practice as of yet.
    Dr. K.

  • Jillian, Have your eye care professional check out http://www.kktints.com This website will make it easier for your doctor to learn how to fit the tinted contact lenses.

    Dr. K.

  • Macie,

    Your doctor can order a two-shade tinted contact lens fitting set from http://www.kktints.com. Maybe this can help you try before you buy.

    Dr. K.

  • Avatar Vicki says:

    Good Day,
    Point of clarification please. My vision has seriously declined over the years. So I now need to wear glasses. When a person is given the contact lens, they are NOT Rx lens, correct? You then wear your glasses over them?


  • Vicki,

    Yes, the tinted contact lenses most patients wear are plano (Non-Rx) and glasses are often worn over them. However, we can tint contacts with prescription, including near-sighted, far-sighted, and even some astigmatism.


    Dr. Kaster

  • Avatar Anna says:

    Hi Dr. K,

    I’m currently in month 8, (almost 9) of post-concussion syndrome/tbi following a car accident. It’s left me with chronic migraines and severe photophobia among other things. While I’ve been using Botox, high quality sunglasses, gabapentin, migraine abortives and a huge hat, it’s simply not enough and light exposure is my biggest migraine trigger.

    I did some research on tinted contacts and found your website, http://www.kktints.com, and more specifically the ComforTints lenses. I found a willing eye doctor, had an annual eye exam (new dx of convergence deficit) she made a call to your lab and viola–in a week or two I go back to test my trials! For anyone considering this, it was simply that easy! This particular eye doctor specializes in working with individuals with head injuries and she was more than willing to order the trial set.

    I’m writing to see if you have any pictures with the ComforTints actually in the eye. I’d love to see how dark the level 2’s and 3’s actually look. Thanks!

  • Anna. I added an image to my Q & A page on http://www.kktints.com. Here is a copy of it. She is wearing a level 2 on her right eye.
    Thanks for writing. http://kktints.com/q—a.html?reload_menu=1
    Dr. Kaster
    Comfort Tint II Demo

  • Avatar Zainab says:

    I want to get this item, how can I buy them. I am from Oman.

  • Do you have an eye care provider in Oman? Your doctor will need to set up an account with us and fit them on your eyes.

  • Avatar Susan Binney says:

    Is it not possible to tint RGP scleral lenses? I also have keratoconus and am looking for a solution to the glare.

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