Research Reports - Colored glasses to mitigate photophobia symptoms posttraumatic brain injury

J Athl Train. 2017 Aug;52(8):725-729. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-52.4.04. Epub 2017
Jun 26.

Clark J(1), Hasselfeld K(2), Bigsby K(3), Divine J(2).

CONTEXT:   After a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), patients
often suffer from light sensitivity, or photophobia, which contributes to
decreased quality of life post-mTBI. Whereas sunglasses may provide some relief
from photophobia, they are not practical indoors or in low light. A
light-mitigation strategy can be easily used indoors as needed to optimize the
relief. We have found that many photophobic patients experience relief using
colored sunglasses.
OBJECTIVE:   To provide the athletic trainer with a means and method to assess
whether an athlete is suffering from photophobia after concussion and to
determine if colored glasses provide relief.
DESIGN:   Cross-sectional study.
SETTING:   Rehabilitation clinic.
PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:   Fifty-one patients being treated after
INTERVENTION(S):   We assessed postconcussion patients for visual symptoms
including photophobia and photosensitivity. Off-the-shelf glasses were used to
determine whether specific colors provided relief from photophobia. Screening was
done using a penlight and multiple pairs of colored glasses.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):   Self-reported mitigation of photophobia symptoms and
the specific color frequency that reduced symptoms in each individual.
RESULTS:   Of the 39 patients studied who had visual symptoms, 76% complained of
photophobia. Using glasses of 1 or more colors, symptoms were relieved in 85% of
patients reporting photophobia. The colors that provided the most relief were
blue, green, red, and purple. No adverse events were reported.
CONCLUSIONS:   An empirical assessment of frequency-specific photophobia is easy
to perform. A traditional penlight is used to elicit photophobia and then the
colored glasses are tested for optimal relief. Frequency-specific photophobia can
be reduced with a strategy of light-mitigation therapy, including colored
glasses, sunglasses, hats, and light avoidance. This, we believe, helps to
improve the patient's quality of life and may aid in the recovery process. More
work is needed to identify the best colors and methods of mitigating
frequency-specific photophobia. 

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