Special shades may help concussed athletes with light sensitivity

Concussions have been a hot topic in relation to contact sports—whether professional football or youth soccer. New research examines how symptoms related to mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be improved with specially designed tinted sunglasses.

The study, published July 3 in the Journal of Athletic Training, found that such lenses could help patients overcome light sensitivity or photophobia.

"While sunglasses can provide some relief, they are not very practical indoors or in low light environments," wrote lead author Joe Clark, PhD, professor in the department of neurology and rehabilitation medicine at the University of Cincinnati. "What is needed is a light mitigation strategy that can be readily employed indoors, which can optimize relief in those who suffer from photophobia, or light sensitivity."

Clark and his colleagues examining 51 patients who experienced concussion. They were given differing colored lenses and asked about light-related difficulties.

"We found that 85 percent of patients reporting photophobia had relief of the symptoms with one or more colors-- blue, green, red and purple--with no reported adverse events," Clark said.

Researchers hope this work can help athletic trainers improve treatment of affected individuals. Clark and his team also advise professionals to talk to TBI patients about minimizing exposure to the sun and bright lights, including digital screens.