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if I am exposed to sunlight i instantly get a migraine

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Every time I am exposed to sunlight for more than 5 minutes, I almost instantly get a severe headache or a migraine. I've tried using sunglasses, hats, even closing my eyes in car rides (only have one car and my husband drives) and nothing works. Even just answering the front door on a cloudy day will trigger it. I can sit in my house and use the computer or watch tv all day and have no issues but if I open the curtains, the pain begins. I've seen a doctor who tried me on 3 different migraine meds, one is supposed to stop the migraine if I catch it early and none of them worked for me. I went to an ophthalmologist for some spots that I see in my eyes but I've seen them since childhood (I call them pixels, they are always there and do not affect my vision as far as I can tell. Also heard it called visual snow) and the doctor said that she didn't see anything. I lost my job so I don't have health insurance. Started during pregnancy and my son is 16 months and I still have no relief.

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replied July 5th, 2011
Headache and Migraines Answer A24705
Hi, and thanks for your medical question on eHealth forum!

What you have is probably photophobia or increased sensitivity to light. Retinal detachment (this also causes flashes of light), iritis, uveitis, optic neuritis, corneal ulcerations and other afflictions of cornea, and cataracts are a few eye related causes for increased sensitivity to light. It can be due to nervous system disorders like herniation of tonsils or Chiari malformation, meningitis and encephalitis. The latter two you obviously do not have as you do not have any other symptoms. Chiari malformation can be diagnosed by a MRI of the brain.

Other than that it can be a symptom of migraine, retinal migraine, ophthalmic migraine, magnesium deficiency, infectious mononucleosis (if you have a recent history of flu like symptoms), chronic fatigue syndrome, hangover, side effects of certain drugs etc.
Please consult your PCP for primary examination followed by proper referral. You need to consult an eye specialist and a neurologist. Take care!

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