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Scientists solve a migraine mystery.

SCIENTISTS have solved the mystery of why migraine sufferers shun the light.

Light intensifies migraine headaches because of a particular group of retina cells at the back of the eye, research has shown.

People who are totally blind due to eye diseases such as retinal cancer and glaucoma are not affected by light during migraine attacks, the study found.

But this was not true of "legally blind" individuals with severely impaired eyesight, who cannot make out images but detect the presence of light.

Professor Rami Burstein, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, US, who conducted tests on totally and "legally" blind migraine sufferers, said: "The mechanism of photophobia must involve the optic nerve, because in totally blind individuals, the optic nerve does not carry light signals to the brain."

The scientists showed that a group of recently discovered retinal cells which play a role in the body's night and day cycle were involved. The light receptors are the only ones left working in patients who are "legally blind".

The findings could open up new treatment possibilities.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2010
Words:179
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