Photophobia (Light Sensitivity): Causes and Treatments.

Photophobia (Light Sensitivity): Causes and Treatments

What is photophobia (light sensitivity)?

Photophobia is a condition of light intolerance or sensitivity. Various light sources like fluorescent light and sunlight can lead to eye discomfort and squinting. Sometimes, you may need to close your eyes as a result of the light discomfort. You may also feel accompanying headaches.

If you are light-sensitive, bright light may be intolerant. If you are highly light-sensitive, all forms of light can cause discomfort.

light sensitivity

People who are light-sensitive can find bright surroundings extremely uncomfortable.

What causes photophobia?

Although photophobia is not an eye disease per se, it is an indication underlying other conditions like an eye infection or inflammation. Photophobia can also be a symptom of other non-eye diseases like virus-caused illnesses. Furthermore, if your eyes have lighter colours, you may be more sensitive to light in bright surroundings.

On the other hand, if you have darker eyes that contain more pigment to shield your eyes against bright lighting, you may not be as sensitive. People with albinism (lack of eye pigments) typically are prone to light sensitivity.

If you suffer from a nervous system disorder like meningitis, retinal detachment, contact lens discomfort or corneal abrasion, you may also experience photophobia or light intolerance. After eye surgery, your eyes may also react more acutely in bright surroundings.

If you suffer from total color deficiency (seeing only in shades of gray), conjunctivitis, iritis and corneal inflammation, you also may suffer from photophobia.

Other causes of photophobia include the genetic disorder keratosis follicularis spinulosa decalvans (KFSD) as well as medications (such as belladonna, furosemide, quinine, tetracycline and doxycycline) that may cause light sensitivity as a side effect.

Treatment For Photophobia (light sensitivity)

Address the underlying cause of photophobia to treat it. After the triggering factor is identified and treated, photophobia would subside in most cases. For instance, if you are taking a medication that causes light sensitivity, consult your doctor to replace the medication.

If you are more prone to light sensitivity, avoid bright sunlight and other harsh lighting sources.  Hats and sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection can shield your eyes from harsh UV rays from the sun. Consider wearing eyeglasses with photochromic lenses that darken automatically outdoors to block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.

Otherwise, you may want to try out polarized sunglasses that offer extra protection against glare-causing reflections of light from the external surroundings that reflect light.

Also if you suffer from extreme photophobia, consult your doctor to discuss prosthetic contact lenses that are specially coloured to look like your own eyes, in order to reduce the amount of light that enters your eyes. Book your next eye appointment to address your issue with light sensitivity with planoEyecheck.


All About Vision. 2022. Are your eyes sensitive to light? You may have photophobia.. [online] Available at: <,irritations%2C%20sunburn%20and%20refractive%20surgery.> [Accessed 28 January 2022].


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