At Avulux, we make it our business to understand the social, economic, and personal consequences that come with migraine. There are many hidden costs to migraine, but the costs that may be flying below the radar are the ones associated with both large and small businesses. Several groups have studied the effects of migraine on worker productivity and have come up with quantitative data to get us closer to understanding just how much migraine impacts our businesses and our economies. We recognize and sympathize with the troubles migraine brings to an individual’s personal life. Those troubles also have an impact on business operations. In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore the effects of migraine on workplace productivity, business growth, and profitability.
The Cost of Migraine to Society
If you are part of the approximate 12% of the population with migraine, you know how difficult it is to get people to understand your pain. You may not be able to eat due to the accompanying nausea, you may experience an increase to your photosensitivity, you may even find yourself confused as your body tries to make sense of the blinding, throbbing pain in your head. People who do not experience migraine attacks or migraine symptoms (known as migraines) cannot possibly empathize with the pain of those who do, so statements like, “It’s just a headache!” and “It can't be that bad!” are often just perceived as insensitive. As a result, migraineurs often ride out the pain in isolation, and at times, they feel defeated. It can seem as if there is nobody to relate to, reach out to for help, and nothing that can get rid of the pain. This can take a toll on one’s social life, affect them in the workplace, and enervate even the toughest individuals.
Therein lies the issue. When employees become afraid or embarrassed to seek help for their migraine disease and employers are uneducated on the subject, the issues multiply. Employees show up to work suffering from migraine symptoms such as headache, nausea, aura, and possibly numbness of their limbs and they have a hard time producing valuable output. Employers may or may not be wary of the expenses they’re covering for their employees’ migraine treatments as they frequent their physicians, but the costs go above and beyond as employers are also affected by their employees’ productivity-killing migraine symptoms.
The costs do go further, as they’re not simply identifiable lines on the income statement. Migraine is an invisible illness. It’s not easy to identify which employees in your workforce are suffering if they’re remaining silent as to avoid stigma. The employees that show up and are able to push through with the level of pain and symptoms they experience may be providing a less than stellar customer experience.
How does migraine affect other business areas? Customer service, sales, operations, finance, accounting. A decrease in productivity, quality, and accuracy can have severe effects on any operation.
The Migraine Stats
This polarization between those who suffer from migraine and those who don’t creates a valley of misunderstanding whose ripple effects are felt within the community. Here are some facts courtesy of the Migraine Research Foundation1:
- As of 2019, there are about 500 certified headache specialists in the U.S. and 39 million people with migraine.
- More than half of all migraine sufferers are never diagnosed.
- The vast majority of migraine sufferers do not seek medical care for their pain.
- Although 25% of sufferers would benefit from preventive treatment, only 12% of all sufferers receive it.
- Migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world.
- 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children experience migraines.
- Every 10 seconds, someone in the U.S. goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, and approximately 1.2 million visits are for acute migraine attacks.
- More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.
- Migraine sufferers, like those who suffer from other chronic illnesses, experience the high costs of medical services, too little support, and limited access to quality care.
Just to reiterate how prevalent migraine is, multiply the number of your total employees by the above prevalence stats and ask yourself whether you’re comfortable with 90% of those employees being unable to operate to reasonable standards during a migraine attack. Businesses need to seriously take migraine into account and provide an action plan for their workforce.
The Cost of Migraine to Businesses and the Economy
The Dollar Figures Behind Business and Migraine
In a presentation by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) — a national non-profit research and educational organization — Brian Gifford, Ph.D. delineates the direct correlation between migraine and productivity loss2:
Migraine costs employers about $84,000 per 1,000 US3 workers per year. These costs are made up of:
- Excess sick days and disability leaves
- Short-term disability claims
- Long-term disability claims
- Excess medical and Rx treatments
Researchers found that employees with migraine and employees experiencing frequent headaches saw their productivity affected. Namely, employees with severe headaches and migraine more often reported impaired performance when compared with employees without headache or migraine. When headache was controlled for (statistically removed from the variables affecting the data) the employees were on the same level of productivity.
Therefore, managing migraine and severe headache symptoms can preserve employee productivity.
A Real World Study
To illustrate the costly effects of migraine disease, a recent article by Jane E. Brody of the New York Times4 detailed a survey run by the Japanese Headache Society on more than 2,400 workers at Fujitsu (a Tokyo IT company). It was found that the productivity of 20% of their employees was impaired by migraine at an approximate cost of $350,000,000 per year for their 150,000 employees.
An employee that is productive, produces accurate results, and high-quality output would likely be considered a high performing employee. These characteristics are seen as valuable since they directly or indirectly contribute to business profitability. When these employee characteristics are affected, not only are businesses potentially spending more on medically treating their employees, but the loss in productivity and output is not always easily identified as the factor that is affecting business growth and profitability. This is precisely why a preventative plan to ease migraineur employee symptoms needs to be included in any business’s playbook.
Available Migraine Treatments - Business Benefits
Effectiveness Relies on Action and Consistency
How do you manage employee migraine and headache symptoms to improve productivity? There are various migraine treatment options available such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, behavioral therapies, and more.
However, the effectiveness of migraine treatments depends on whether or not employees choose to even pursue the referral or the direction they’re given by their physicians. In a study on the effectiveness of behavioral migraine treatment5, 234 migraineurs participated. Of the 234, 69 patients were recruited. Of those 69, only 53 completed a follow up within 3 months of referral. Lastly, of those 53, only a mere 30 initiated behavioral treatment. Among those who didn’t pursue the referral, the reasons provided were not having enough time, cost, and skepticism that the treatment would work. For those 30 patients that did follow up, the behavioral treatment was found to be 50% effective.
While there are a variety of effective migraine treatments, migraine relief that is safe, convenient, and affordable will prove most valuable.
Avulux Migraine Glasses – A Safe and Convenient Solution for the Workplace
Take the Proactive Approach
As a business, you may be wondering what you can do to be proactive in helping your workforce manage their migraine symptoms. With migraine being the third most prevalent illness in the world, it’s statistically likely that business owners have employees with migraine currently working for them.
The combination of convenience, cost, and efficacy in a light sensitivity solution is the dream. Fortunately, this is Avulux’s dream and mission. Avulux is an optical technology company that engineers precision-tinted optical filters to help manage light sensitivity resulting from migraine and other neurological and eye disorders. As a result of the joint efforts of a team of physicians and optical engineers, Avulux created a patented next-generation optical filter that has been proven to effectively manage the impact of light sensitivity on subjects with migraine.
Avulux’s patented lens is the only lens on the market that has received regulatory approval as a Class I Medical Device in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union for light-triggered migraine pain relief and light sensitivity management.
How does Avulux work? Simply put, it absorbs the harmful wavelengths of light and allows soothing light into the wearer’s eyes. Avulux lenses differ from any other lens on the market, the lens is patented, proven, and unique. Read about the science here.
To detail the harmful effects of light, a study in 2016 found that white, blue, amber, and red light increased the migraineur subjects’ headache pain intensity and green light was actually shown to reduce pain intensity. Therefore, specifically filtering out certain wavelengths of light and allowing other wavelengths of light in may prove beneficial in reducing photophobia and potentially headache intensity6.
In independent trials run using the Avulux optical filter, more than 90% of Avulux® users with migraine were able to continue with their activities of daily living by filtering pain-triggering light. 74% of Avulux® users were able to reduce or eliminate their usual amount of medication taken to enable them to continue with their daily activities. This may directly translate to an increase in productivity and decrease in healthcare costs.
Improve Employee Quality of Life and Happiness
Avulux® users do not experience any tolerance or side effects, there are many customers that have found and continue to find success by simply wearing their Avulux® migraine glasses at the onset of their migraine or light sensitivity symptoms.
You are likely to both increase productivity and employee well-being by proactively providing your workforce Avulux migraine & light sensitivity glasses. You can likely hypothesize what these benefits mean to your business in the long run: increased growth, better customer service, profitability, and you get the idea.
Best of all, if Avulux® isn’t helping you or your employees manage their light sensitivity, return them for a refund. Manage light sensitivity and light-triggered pain, increase productivity, and get back to your life. Try Avulux® today.
6Rodrigo Noseda, Carolyn A. Bernstein, Rony-Reuven Nir, Alice J. Lee, Anne B. Fulton, Suzanne M. Bertisch, Alexandra Hovaguimian, Dean M. Cestari, Rodrigo Saavedra-Walker, David Borsook, Bruce L. Doran, Catherine Buettner, Rami Burstein, Migraine photophobia originating in cone-driven retinal pathways, Brain, Volume 139, Issue 7, July 2016, Pages 1971–1986, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/aww119