Light sensitivity or intolerance to bright light is a common condition today, and is known as ‘Photophobia’ in medical terminology. Sunlight, fluorescent light and incandescent light are the sources that can cause discomfort, along with a need to squint or close your eyes. Headaches also accompanies light sensitivity at times.
Photophobia is not only an eye disease, but an indication of many conditions such as infection or inflammation that can bother the eyes. Light sensitivity also can be an indication of underlying diseases that don’t directly concern the eyes, such as virus-caused illness or severe headaches or migraine. People with a lighter eye color also may be familiar with more light sensitivity in environments such as bright sunlight, because darker-colored eyes contain more pigment to protect against harsh lighting.
Main causes of Photophobia:
Patients may build up photophobia as a result of numerous different medical circumstances, related to their eyes or the nervous system. It is usually caused by:
- Severe iritis or uveitis (inflammation inside eye)
- Burns to the eye
- Corneal abrasion
- Corneal ulcer
- Drugs withdrawal symptoms caused due to withdrawal from drugs such as: amphetamines, atropine, cocaine, cyclopentolate, idoxuridine, phenylephrine, scopolamine, trifluridine, tropicamide, and vidarabine
- Excessive wearing of contact lenses, or wearing badly fitted contact lenses also leads to Photophobia
- Eye disease, injury, or infection
- Meningitis, and
- Migraine headache.
The finest treatment for light sensitivity is to address its fundamental cause. If the triggering factor is treated, photophobia mostly disappears.
- If under any medication, one should consult a doctor to find out the factors which cause light sensitivity, and decide about discontinuing or replacing the drug.
- If one is naturally sensitive to light, one should avoid bright sunlight and other lighting sources. Wearing wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses which has ultraviolet (UV) protection also helps.
- Photochromic lenses are another way out for mild sun sensitivity. These lenses basically darken automatically outdoors and block 100 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- In case of bright sunlight, one should consider polarized sunglasses. These sun lenses offer extra protection against glare-causing reflections of light from water, sand, snow, concrete roadways and other reflective surfaces.
- In a severe case, one might consider wearing prosthetic contact lenses which are especially colored to look like your own eyes. Prosthetic contact lenses can decrease the amount of light that enters the eye sand make your eyes more comfortable.