I get asked almost daily which migraine glasses are best and what the difference is between Axon Optics vs. Theraspecs, and comparing both of them to Migraine Shields, Felix Gray and Avulux. In this post, I’ll also answer how FL 41 glasses differ from blue light blocking glasses both in tint and effectiveness, as well as how each brand is unique in lenses, prescription, and frames.
Throughout the years, I’ve tried many different brands of glasses for migraine. Over 4 years ago, when I was officially diagnosed with Vestibular Migraine, all my work was done on a computer. For 8-10 hours a day, I’d squint at watch designs, tiny specs, and loads of excel worksheets under the florescent lights of my office. It was a complete nightmare! I used to come home and just want to keep my eyes closed the rest of the night for relief. That’s when my neurologist recommended FL-41 lenses, which have the pink tint. My first pair was Axon, and although they did help, I think my trigger load was just too high to see a lot of benefits.
Once I left my job and started working on Dizzy Cook, I was able to control my environment a little bit better. I am still in front of screens for most of the day between writing posts, editing photos, and answering questions, but I’m able to take breaks more often or spend a day cooking if screens are just too much.
On the days I am on the computer, I can tell such a difference when I wear my migraine glasses. Not only do my eyes feel more rested and less strained, but it really does decrease any build up of dizziness. Sometimes if I go without them, I can feel my brain start to get frazzled and my eyes ache.
With vestibular migraine especially, stores like Target or the grocery store can trigger dizziness. I used to go with a hat, glasses, and ear plugs just to try to make it through. Not only is it the bright lights, but also the way the shelves are lined, the plethora of different designs on packaging, and the overall background noise. These types of glasses can be helpful for this experience as well, and I’ll go into detail on that within the breakdowns.
Full disclosure, I’ve worked with all four brands in some capacity. All brands have gifted me lenses to trial at some point and I make affiliate commissions from sales using my code with Axon, Avulux, and Migraine Shields. None of them have paid for this post in any way - it is all my personal opinion.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Blue light blocking glasses are not created equal. So often I see people order cheap ones from Amazon which don’t specify what range of blue light they block, or how much. You could be blocking blue light that’s not even in the harmful range, below 420nm, and it’s a complete waste of money. The highest range of energy with blue light is between 400-440nm, and this is usually what is associated with digital eye strain. Above that, between 440-500nm, is what effects the sleep/wake cycle. I actually see this range varied on different sites - some say it’s between 460-500nm.
Either way, anything above this range of 440-460nm can actually be considered “good” blue light because it controls the secretion of melatonin. This is essentially the type of light that makes you feel more awake, happy, and energized. In fact, light therapy that’s used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is used within this range.
So before you set out to buy glasses that block out the blue light in a higher range, like the FL-41 lenses, consider this in your purchase. Will these be used during working hours or do you prefer to use them before bed?
What makes Migraine Shields a little bit different is they are blue light glasses intended for migraine, but without the pink FL-41 tint. The tint is like a very faint yellow, which I don’t really notice once I put them on. I used to really enjoy these for computer work. Unfortunately Migraine Shields shut down their production.
They say you can still find the lens technology offered through BluTech at certain providers, but I have not heard of any patients being able to locate it since it shut down.
With Migraine Shields no longer in business, I recommend Felix Gray. Felix Gray is a collection of blue light blocking lenses that come in clear and amber tint. The clear lenses are stylish and just look like regular glasses, while the "sleep lenses" with amber tint have a slight tint to them.
The clear lenses are 15 times more effective at blocking blue light at 455nm. The amber tint is 23 times more effective, plus clinically proven to increase natural melatonin secretion by two times. The focus of these lenses is just to block blue light, and not necessarily tested on people with migraine disorders. You can get them with or without magnification, in a multitude of frames and they reduce glare as well.
I highly recommend these if you are doing a lot of computer work and need to have a little more clarity on color correction. For instance, I work a lot on photo editing and some of the tinted lenses like FL 41 and Avulux are just a tad dark for me to do this accurately.
These lenses run about $95 per pair making them an affordable option. They also are FSA/HSA eligible.
FL 41 Glasses
This actually goes back to several studies, but one interesting one is through Dr. Burstein, who you may have seen on the Migraine World Summit discussing Green Light Therapy and the Allay Lamp. His research team found that the color most comfortable for those with light sensitivity is between 480 and 590nm, which is a green hue.
In 2016 Dr. Bradley Katz set out to create a lens that blocked 480nm of light, which his research showed was most irritating for people with light sensitivity, but without being super dark or having a significant distortion. This is how Axon Optics came to be developed in 2011.
FL 41 tinted glasses have been studied for people with migraine more specifically than blue light blocking only lenses. While the findings are significant, the studies are also done in part by parties who are associated with the manufacturing of FL 41 lenses.
Axon used to use FL-41 tint to reduce light sensitivity and symptoms during a migraine attack, as seen in the picture above. But recently, they've changed to upgrade to the new Avulux lens technology, but using their existing frames! So the lenses are no longer pink tinted and will look like Avulux, but with different frames.
- The Pros - Axon has really great styles and now their lens technology has been upgraded to be the same that Avulux offers, which you can read more about below. They also offer a fit over style as well as a build your own style, where you can send in frames and get the lenses to match.
- The Cons - Axon used to cost $189, but are now priced the same as Avulux. This is because of the upgraded technology, but still, $300 can be hard to spend on lenses. My discount still applies, so you can use THEDIZZYCOOK for $25 off.
TheraSpecs also uses FL 41 tint for their lenses, but their tint is a little more pink/reddish. They were developed by a Migraine community member who understands what it's like to live with this illness. They claim to block up to 25x more blue light (up to 80%) than other blue light blocking glasses at the higher level of 480nm.
TheraSpecs has the darkest tint of all 3 lenses and I believe this is why they're extremely popular with the chronic migraine community. At the last Migraine World Summit event I attended, everyone was wearing the Audrey wrap glasses. These also come in Indoor and Outdoor lenses, which are polarized sunglasses.
In addition to the FL-41 tint, they also offer polarized outdoor lenses which are 100% UVA/UVB blocking and offer glare protection. Their glasses are in the lower range at $119-149 and they will occasionally offer discounts!
- The Pros - TheraSpecs have a much darker reddish-pink tint, so if you're used to wearing sunglasses inside everywhere (which is not good as it makes you more sensitive to light over time), this is a great product to transition to. They're really effective in big box stores like Target or the grocery store, especially during an attack. They also offer a “wrap” style which fits over prescription lenses. I’ve also heard wonderful things about their polarized outdoor lenses, I’ve just never got to try them myself! They’re one of the more affordable brands as well, especially when they have a discount code.
- The Cons - Their pro is also their con sometimes. These are more dark and colorful, they often make it difficult for me to work on photo edits with good clarity. I also sometimes feel like my screen is more distorted when wearing these. I wish they had more fashionable frame styles to choose from! The super pink tint makes me self conscious sometimes. Usually if I’m wearing these, it is always a time I don’t want to talk about my migraine disorder and just want to get in and out of a store.
Avulux is different than all other three brands, blocking 97% of blue, amber, and red light, while letting 70% of green light through. The interesting thing about Avulux is they take advantage of the studies done on soothing green light that I mentioned above, which is also the science behind Allay Lamp. Although I never found green light therapy to be successful at reducing dizziness (since I don't get head pain with vestibular migraine attacks), it did help with lowering anxiety and promoting more restful sleep. I found the same to be true with wearing Avulux lenses.
Another great selling point for Avulux is they have independent studies done specifically on their lens technology, which shows 74% of participants reduced their amount of medication needed to continue daily activities, and 38% prevented light-triggered pain. No other brand has this amount of clinical research behind it.
Avulux comes in a variety of frames and although their lenses look darker in pictures, the coloring isn't far off from what you see in the episodic lenses of Migraine Shields. While they're more noticeable that you're wearing some kind of special lenses, it's not quite as obvious as the FL-41 pink tint. They ship non-prescription lenses internationally, but prescription lenses are only available in the USA. You can even place their lens technology in your own frames.
- The Pros - Avulux has the science behind it, they're lightweight and fashionable, and they are really effective in big box stores with fluorescent lights. I also found them to be helpful when driving, as well as wearing them to block out blue light from my phone before bed. If you find yourself on screens later in the evening, these will definitely help you with more restful sleep and make scrolling on the phone less of a trigger. They really do offer everything - from prescription lenses to international shipping!
- The Cons - I had to wear Avulux regularly at the beginning of testing to get used to looking at my computer screen. Since I am so visually sensitive with vestibular migraine, there was an adjustment period to my large computer monitor. At first it made my eyes feel off and gave me a little bit of that floaty feeling. I didn't have the same reaction when wearing them while looking at my phone or tv, which felt totally normal. This dizziness went away after about a week of wearing them regularly, but it is worth noting if you experience this initially that there can be an adjustment period. The price is also a drawback, but glasses with independent studies behind it don't come cheap. Basic lenses are $299.99 USD to start.
If you're interested in trying Avulux, they offer $25 off with code THEDIZZYCOOK and also a 60 day easy return policy.
So Which Migraine Glasses are Best?
All four brands are really solid companies and I have owned and used all of them in my five years of dealing with chronic and episodic vestibular migraine. The truth is, they’re all very different and good for specific activities.
At this point in my migraine journey, it’s also a little difficult for me to compare them. I’m more episodic now and really only deal with eye/head pressure and dizziness when I’m on the computer too long, whereas before I was trying to solve a mountain of issues like vertigo, derealization, etc. with FL-41 lenses.
- I really enjoyed Migraine Shields, so it's a shame what has happened to the company. However, for relief from eye strain specifically caused by the computer, I'd recommend Felix Gray. I spend so much time squinting while editing photos and writing posts that I really enjoy a lighter tint or no tint to avoid color skewing.
- I think TheraSpecs are best for those with really severe attacks as an alternative to wearing sunglasses, or for super bright big box stores. Readers really enjoy the wrap around lenses.
- Avulux and Axon I've worn for a couple years now, but I've noticed the lenses to be very calming for my eyes. I definitely have less eye strain and sleep better using them to look at screens in the evenings. This is a really solid brand if you need prescription lenses and can spend a little more money. If you're in a chronic stage, I'd say this is probably the best option. These are also great for screens as well, especially if you don't mind tinted lenses.
In conclusion, finding the best migraine glasses involves testing them yourself. All these companies offer fantastic return policies, so order a few and then return the ones that aren't a fit for you.
I hope they don’t hate me for saying that, but it’s truly the only way to know what will work best! What suits me best, may not suit you. I do hope I offered a little more insight into the differences between all four lenses.
A Note on Sunglasses
The most important thing to note, and why I added my sunglasses photo, is wearing sunglasses all the time indoors can actually increase your light sensitivity. Therefore you may actually be making your symptoms worse in the long run for short term relief.
Investing in one of these migraine glasses may have good long term effects on decreasing that sensitivity overall.
More Posts on Migraine Glasses
For more information on these lenses for migraine, check out the following posts.
This post was originally written January 4, 2021 and was updated June 1, 2023 with new information on Avulux and Felix Gray lenses.