Sunglasses for Post-Concussion Headaches

I have been given this product as part of a product review. Although this product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. 

The sun is the brightest light I know. And for many months I have stayed as far away from it as I could. A concussion over the summer left me with persistent symptoms like headaches, neck pain, dizziness, nausea, and blurred vision. The most difficult part has been the unbearable sensitivity to light I was experiencing. Once a sun-savvy and light-loving lady before my concussion, I now preferred the shadows. Or risk a piercing headache from even a speck of sunshine.

Then, came a shred of hope after trying out a pair of specialized glasses I ordered online called TheraSpecs. These have an FL-41 tint which helps filter out harsh headache-inducing light like what your computer and cell phone emits. I first put them on in September and have been wearing them regularly since. These glasses are marketed toward migraineurs especially because they are backed by research that shows a reduction in the frequency of migraine attacks in sufferers.

According to their website:

A clinical study of TheraSpecs’ tint showed that participants experienced on average 74% fewer migraine attacks per month.”

For those suffering from debilitating migraines, that’s a profound relief. For me, TheraSpecs reduced my eye strain and protected me from florescent lights which proved to be just the relief I was craving. 

But the glasses also feel more like a band-aid than a cure.

Perhaps for migraine sufferers, wearing TheraSpecs may be a good alternative to popping Excedrin; but for someone suffering from photophobia and headaches as a result of post-concussion syndrome, they are only a temporary fix. The ultimate goal is to not have to wear them at all because, honestly, as vain as this may sound, I feel self-conscious sporting them in public. They just don’t look normal. People stare at restaurants and ask endless questions, which inevitably turns into a conversation about my condition. That defeats the purpose of me going to the restaurant in the first place – to return to normal life again. Kind of hard to do when you’re wearing big pink glasses on your face. 

Even more than the aesthetic factor, I worry that wearing TheraSpecs all day makes me more sensitive to light and more dependent on the glasses. Slowly exposing myself to more light and not wearing them constantly is one step in the recovery process that’s challenging but necessary. I don’t want to have to hide behind rose-colored glasses forever.

This is me wearing my indoor TheraSpecs. Rosy, right?

While indoor TheraSpecs are helpful, they only work well indoors. So, I used to stack my darkest pair of Ray Bans sunglasses over my pair of indoor TheraSpecs before venturing outside my home. Certainly, I wasn’t looking like the coolest cat strutting around town in this double-glasses getup (and by ‘strutting’ I mean ambling to my doctor’s appointments like a grandma in need of hip replacement surgery). This contributed to me becoming more of a shut-in than I would have liked as I battled the dog days of post-concussion syndrome.

I wanted to get outside more to walk around the block, which was my new doctor-recommended exercise plan. Gone were my running days, all I could do was walk. But the sun was too unforgiving and I just couldn’t take being outdoors for very long.

Outdoor Theraspecs helped me become more mobile and able to endure the sun’s harsh rays better than I had with regular sunglasses alone.

However helpful, these weren’t exactly the lifesaver I’d envisioned them to be. While they have abundant variations and different attractive styles, I chose the Classic style since that’s what my indoor ones were and they seemed to do trick. Maybe that was where I went wrong because this pair of outdoor TheraSpecs unavoidably lets in way too much sunshine from the top and sides of the frames. I find that wearing a hood over my head along with the sunglasses helps but I’m kicking myself for not getting their wrap-around pair.

While these have been a therapeutic asset so far in my PCS journey, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss an issue with the overall quality of the product. The frames are purposely made of extraordinarily thin material so that they aren’t too heavy or uncomfortable when worn on a person who already has a lot of head pressure. This feels marvelous at first. So lightweight you forget you’re wearing them! But they are also so lightweight that they don’t hold up. The very feature I praised in an article about FL-41 glasses for post-concussion headaches, has today become a concern.

The first pair of TheraSpecs I purchased broke within two weeks of wearing them. The frame cracked above one of the eye lenses. Luckily for me there’s a warranty period and the company replaced the pair at no additional cost.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, I relagated that maybe the first pair was a fluke. It wasn’t. Sure enough, after a few weeks with my replacement Specs, the screw holding together the right arm of the glasses came loose and fell out. I couldn’t find it. Drat! However, with some help from an eyeglasses kit I was able to fix it with a screw that now only falls out from time to time and requires me to take my pinky nail to screw back in. I love how these glasses make me feel (like my eyes are being bathed in a waterfall of relief) so I call this a win.

Now, I must say I was skeptical that my outdoor pair would face the same fate and break one way or another. They haven’t. They actually feel sturdier to the touch than the indoor kind. I’ve been wearing them for over a month now and they’re still going strong.

This is me wearing outdoor TheraSpecs.

Not only do they have a darker tint than the indoor kind, they’re also polarized so they stop painful glare in its tracks. The reflection off cars, the road, and especially snow used to bother me to no end. With TheraSpecs outdoor glasses, I no longer have to stack multiple pairs of shades on my face before going out into the world. That’s worth so much when you’re dealing with headaches, eyestrain and light sensitivity on the daily.

My concussion really shook me and in addition to an aversion to light, I’ve been battling with convergence insufficiency which makes it difficult for my eyes to come together when reading. This causes intense strain on my vestibular system and induces head pain and a spinning sensation. Yuck.

Overall, I find relief in wearing my indoor pair of TheraSpecs, but ultimately feel they’re a crutch. With that being said, I have mixed feelings about the outdoor TheraSpecs line. I’ve only tried the Classic pair, but if you’re considering purchasing these I’d recommend trying the wrap-around pair for maximum sunshine coverage. 

Then there’s also the price point. Coming from someone who used to spend $20 on a pair of sunglasses before my injury, it’s hard to wrap my head around the TheraSpecs price, $129-$179. Had I not received these as a gift, I’m not sure I would have purchased them on my own. I definitely notice a difference in head tension relief compared to wearing a regular old pair of sunglasses though, which makes me grateful to have them.

I just hope and wish on every birthday candle that this pair doesn’t crack or unscrew like my indoor ones did. If they do, I suppose there’s always duct tape.

In the end, at least for post-concussion symptoms, specialized tinted glasses like TheraSpecs are a temporary solution to a bigger health problem.

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