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How Migraine Glasses May Help Relieve Pain and Prevent Attacks

Living Well

June 28, 2024

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by Beth Ann Mayer


Medically Reviewed by:

Jenna Stoddard, OD, FAAO


by Beth Ann Mayer


Medically Reviewed by:

Jenna Stoddard, OD, FAAO


Glasses with special lenses may help reduce light sensitivity associated with migraine, but research is limited. Be sure to purchase a high quality pair and try different tints to find your best match.

You may have been on the receiving end of many suggestions for gizmos and strategies that can reduce migraine attacks, but the suggestion of special glasses for migraine may actually have some merit.

However, there’s no cure-all for migraine, and the science is limited. With the right information, you can decide whether migraine glasses are right for you.

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What are migraine glasses?

The most common type of migraine glasses are outfitted with FL-41 lenses, which are rose-colored or pink. The FL stands for fluorescent light. The glasses block fluorescent light and light at the green-to-blue end of the spectrum.

According to surgical neuroopthamologist, Alexander Solomon, MD, FL-41 lenses are more than just pink glasses.

“They have been shown to let a greater percentage of transmitted light through in total but restrict the lowest wavelengths of light more effectively than a standard rose tint,” he says.

Those wavelengths could worsen or trigger light sensitivity.

Ophthalmologist John C. Galanis, MD, FACS, explains that all visible light has a wavelength of 380 to 750 nanometers (nm), or one-billionth of a meter.

Each light color corresponds to the following wavelengths:

  • Violet: 380 to 450 nm
  • Blue: 450 to 485 nm
  • Purple: 485 to 500 nm
  • Green: 500 to 565 nm
  • Yellow: 565 to 590 nm
  • Orange: 590 to 625 nm
  • Red: 625 to 750 nm

“FL-41 lenses filter out light from 480 to 520 nm in the blue to green light range,” Galanis says. “This is the spectrum of light that individuals with migraine tend to be most susceptible to.”

As a result, people with migraine may experience benefits like:

  • reduced light sensitivity
  • less susceptibility to sight-related triggers
  • improved comfort during daily activities
  • increased quality of life
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Do migraine glasses work?

The research on tinted lenses for migraine relief is limited, and scientists are still working to pinpoint why some people may benefit from using them.

What the research says

One 2016 study indicated that people who wore FL-41 sunglasses experienced less light sensitivity than the placebo, suggesting that these sunglasses could be useful for people with chronic migraine.

A small, much older study from 1991 of 20 children diagnosed with migraine indicated those who wore rose tints saw sustained improvement in migraine for up to 4 months, including a reduction in frequency from about 6 per month to fewer than 2.

In short, more research is needed.

However, a few theories on the mechanism that allows FL-41 lenses to benefit some people with migraine have emerged.

“The exact mechanism responsible for the effect is not specifically known,” Galanis says. “They likely reduce light sensitivity and photophobia by blocking the highest energy light in the visible spectrum.”

Different tints for different people

Solomon echoed those sentiments and shared another hypothesis.

“An alternative theory … is that there is not one single tint that will improve photosensitivity for all patients, but that specific preferred lens tints for an individual patient may reduce signaling areas of the brain prone to generating an excessive pain response,” Solomon says.

In other words, different tints of glasses may work better for different people.

Tips for choosing glasses for migraine

Keep a few things in mind when you set out to purchase migraine glasses.

See an eye doctor

The first step in finding migraine glasses that work for you is to see an eye doctor.

“An eye doctor can perform a comprehensive eye exam to check your vision and eye health,” says Regina Krel, MD, a neurologist at Hackensack University Medical Center. “This is important to ensure that FL-41 lenses are the right choice for you.”

The doctor can walk you through the various lens prescription options, like bifocal, single-vision, and progressive. They can also evaluate whether or not you have an underlying eye condition contributing to headaches.

Do your research

“Many websites will sell general rose-colored glasses under the guise of this helping light sensitivity, but some studies have shown a normal rose-tinted glass is not as effective as an FL-41 lens, possibly due to subtle light transmission differences,” said Solomon. “Even among sites claiming they are selling FL-41 lenses, the quality and overall transmission of the lens may not be carefully regulated.”

Galanis also says it’s possible to add FL-41 lenses to prescription eyeglasses.

The price of prescription FL-41 lenses will vary, as will insurance coverage. Generally, prices range from $100 to $500.

Trial and error

When choosing lenses, keep in mind:

  • How you’ll use them. For instance, glasses used for reading or driving may be best with a light tint.
  • Try different frame options for comfort.
  • Try different lens tints to see what works for you.
  • Read reviews and consult an eye doctor about reputable brands.

Solomon strongly recommends, “choosing a [seller] where your glasses — particularly nonprescription versions — can be easily returned if they don’t work for you.”

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Adjusting to migraine glasses

Even if you check the boxes above, you may experience drawbacks, like headaches and dizziness. Krel says these typically go away after an adjustment period.

“When you first start using FL-41 lenses, you may also want to wear them for short periods and gradually increase the amount of time you wear them,” Krel said. “This will help your eyes adjust to the new lenses.”

Even if you don’t have any discomfort, it’s a good idea to take breaks from your glasses every few hours.

If your first attempt at finding the right glasses doesn’t work, your care team can help you consider other options.

How to care for migraine glasses

Experts say caring for FL-41 lenses isn’t much different from other glasses.

Tips include:

  • Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Rinse under running water.
  • Use a clean microfiber cloth to gently dry.
  • Store in a clean, dry place.
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Frequently asked questions

Read on for additional facts about migraine glasses.

How do migraine glasses work?

It’s unclear exactly how migraine lenses work, but they likely reduce the sensitivity to light that contributes to migraine attacks.

Why are migraine glasses pink?

Limited research indicates that rose-colored FL-41 glasses may provide some relief for light sensitivity by preventing certain wavelengths of light from reaching the eye.

However, there isn’t much data, and different people may experience different effects.

What’s the best color lens for migraine?

Some people may notice the best results with FL-41 rose-colored lenses.

However, it’s a good idea to experiment with different tints to see what works for you.

Are migraine glasses worth it?

Migraine glasses may be an effective way to prevent or reduce the severity of migraine for some. However, it’s not guaranteed.

Your best bet is to speak with an eye doctor and a neurologist to discuss the pros and cons of different treatment options. You can also explore options that may be covered by insurance.


Migraine glasses contain tinted lenses that reduce specific light wavelengths. One common type uses pink FL-41 lenses for light sensitivity.

Limited research exists on migraine glasses, and it may take trial and error to find what works for you.

Experts recommend starting with a visit to an eye doctor to explore your options.

Medically reviewed on June 28, 2024

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About the author

Beth Ann Mayer

Beth Ann Mayer is a New York-based freelance writer and content strategist who specializes in health and parenting writing. Her work has been published in Parents, Shape, and Inside Lacrosse. She is a co-founder of digital content agency Lemonseed Creative and is a graduate of Syracuse University. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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