Low energy light bulb manufacturer Megaman has recently been involved with an informal project to study the effects of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) on migraine sufferers with light sensitivity issues. Conducted jointly with the UK charity Migraine Action, the project has thrown up some unexpected results which could help migraine sufferers to select low energy lighting products which minimise the number and severity of attacks.
Migraine is a truly global phenomenon. European and American studies for the World Health Organisation have shown that 6-8% of men and 15-18% of women experience migraine each year and it is estimated that 14% of the adults in Europe are affected by the affliction. In the UK the condition currently affects around 9 million people (about 14% of the population). Some migraines are triggered by lighting effects, such as flickering or point sources, colour variations and others.
There have been a number of anecdotal reports in both printed and online form of migraines triggered by Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). However, there have to date been no large scale clinical or scientific studies to determine exactly how widespread the phenomenon is, or what the root cause of such triggers could be. An authoritative report by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) in 2009 confirmed that robust research had at that time been inadequate globally, and that various anecdotally reported health problems had not been followed up scientifically.
Now some light may have been shed on the nature of these “CFL Triggers”. The informal study conducted with Migraine Action looked at the effects of these lamps on migraine sufferers with light sensitivity issues. And the project has thrown up some unexpected results which could help migraine sufferers to select low energy lighting products which minimise the number and severity of attacks.
The project used specially selected Megaman CFLs, and a panel of volunteers from Migraine Action. It concluded that products with certain colour temperatures could be more beneficial to migraine sufferers, and that larger bulbs (i.e. those with less ‘glare’) are probably better than smaller, more intense light sources.
While the lamp trials were small-scale and informal (they involved only 25 volunteers), the results turned up some unexpected results. For instance:
• A standard ‘GLS’ traditionally shaped bulb of colour temperature 2700K resulted in fewer ‘triggers’ than other types tested.
• Both warmer and cooler colour temperatures than 2700K (e.g. 2400K, 4000K and 6500K) triggered more attacks.
• 4000K bulb types caused most attacks.
• A small diameter ‘globe type triggered more attacks than a larger, more powerful type indicating that glare or intensity of the light source may also be a factor.
• The range of colour temperatures tested would seem to represent the limits of practical application, as a number of participants viewed 2300K types as “too dim” and 6500K types as “too bright” or “too intense”.
The trials do seem to have identified key CFL characteristics which may be less likely to trigger attacks in certain migraine sufferers. So both Megaman and Migraine Action believe that further investigation now seems worthwhile, leading hopefully to a range of ‘low trigger’ products available specifically for light sensitive users.
A copy of the full Lamp Trial Report (PDF Format) can be downloaded from the Megaman UK website