Is your eye sensitive to light? When bright lights hurt your eyes, you have light sensitivity. Another technical term of this condition is called photophobia. This is a common symptom that is related to a broad range of conditions. It can be related to a spectrum ranging from minor eye irritations to severe medical conditions.
Mild photophobia will just make you squint when outdoor light is too bright. The same thing happens when you enter a room that has too many bright LED lights. In the more serious cases, this condition can bring about massive eye pain when you see any type of light stimulus. Want to find out more about why your eye is sensitive to light? Read on below as we shall dive deep into this issue.
What factors lead to photophobia?
There are quite a few eye issues and health conditions that can lead to photophobia as a symptom. Take a good look at these factors to help protect your eye health. With the proper information, you can determine why your eye is sensitive to light and take the necessary steps to avoid its onset. And if ever you do have photophobia, knowing the roots can help you alleviate the problem. Take a look at the following list below:
You will find that your eye is sensitive to light when you suffer migraines. It is a common symptom of this severe and debilitating headache. Unfortunately, migraines are stimulated by various factors, depending on the individual. It can be because of:
- Hormonal changes
- Eating certain food
- Weather changes
- Light sources
As you can see, migraines can be due to light sensitivity and it can also result to further light sensitivity. Other symptoms that accompany migraines include nausea, vomiting, or throbbing on the part of your head. To help you avoid migraines and the accompanying light sensitivity, take note of what factors precipitate your migraine. Then do your best to minimize the triggers.
- Issues affecting the eyes
Sensitivity to lights is very common when you suffer from certain eye conditions. Take a look at them below:
- Dry eyes
When you suffer from dry eye syndrome, your tear glands do not make sufficient tears that keep your eyes moist. As a result, your eye is sensitive to light due to excessive dryness. Several factors influence this, such as:
- Certain medical conditions
- Some medications
- Amount of computer use
- Environmental factors
When your eyes don’t produce enough tears, you need to consult your doctor. They usually prescribe natural tear drops that can readily alleviate your condition.
- Corneal abrasion
In layman’s terms, corneal abrasion means scratching the outermost layer of the eye. This condition can lead to photophobia, among other issues. It is a common eye injury if you get dirt, sand, particles, and other foreign substances in your eyes. However, you cannot treat this lightly because it can become a serious issue if you suffer a corneal infection or corneal ulcer.
When the white portion of your eyes becomes inflamed, you have what is known as scleritis. It can make your eyes sensitive to light. Most cases of scleritis are attributed to lupus, an autoimmune condition. Apart from photophobia, this can lead to eye pain, blurry vision, and watery eyes.
When you’ve got the dreaded sore eyes or pink eyes, the whole white part of your eyes becomes red. As a result, your eye is sensitive to light. When the redness is due to a virus or bacteria, it can be highly infectious. At times, your eyes can also turn pink and sensitive due to allergies.
- Ocular albinism
This is a genetic anomaly that’s congenital in nature. It means you are born with this condition. As such, your eye lacks pigment, so you suffer from the inability to block bright lights.
When the muscles in your eyelids suddenly have a spasm, it means that you cannot control your eyelids properly. Uncontrollable blinking leads to light sensitivity and dry eyes.
- Other eye issues
When you suffer from uveitis (inflammation inside the eye) or keratitis (inflammation in the cornea), your eye is sensitive to light. Moreover, damage to your retina, the layer in the inner eye that’s sensitive to light, can also be a root cause of photophobia.
- Certain conditions affecting the brain
Your eyes can also become sensitive to light due to a few serious conditions that affect your nervous systems. When your brain is affected by the following issues, you may experience photophobia:
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage
When there is serious bleeding in your brain and its surrounding tissues, your eye is sensitive to light. This can also come with severe headaches that don’t go away. If you experience a sudden onset of this condition, seek immediate medical care as you may be suffering from an aneurysm.
This condition occurs when your brain becomes inflamed due to a viral infection or some other cause. In serious cases, it can be life-threatening.
This is a serious medical emergency stemming from a bacterial infection targeting the brain and spinal cord membranes. Because it targets the brain, your optic nerves become more sensitive. You may find glaring lights difficult to bear.
What are the symptoms of light sensitivity?
The symptoms of photophobia will vary depending on the person. Sometimes, you will find yourself just squinting as your eyes try to adjust to the light source. Unfortunately, excessive squinting can also result in eye pain and strain. When your eye is sensitive to light, you may also find yourself blinking excessively. It can also result in watery eyes or feeling dizzy and nauseous.
Noteworthy, some people with photophobia experience headaches. In more severe cases, it can lead to migraines. Do note that migraines triggered by other factors like food can make you more sensitive to light. It will accompany eye pain and even vomiting. Usually, most people who suffer from migraines share they need to rest in a dark room to avoid stimuli. Unfortunately, bright lights will exacerbate the migraine attack and make it harder to recover.
Symptoms of photophobia can be mild to severe, depending on the root of the problem. However, you must be very wary of sudden light sensitivity as it can be a sign of a complex medical issue. If you or your loved ones experience unexplained photophobia with fever and body malaise, it can be an onset of meningitis or other debilitating issues. When you feel in your gut that there is something wrong, you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. Some cases even warrant a trip to the emergency room. Remember, listen to your body and don’t take severe issues lightly, or they can be fatal.
Is it possible to prevent photophobia?
With certain medical conditions (as mentioned above), photophobia is inevitable unless you nip the issues causing it in the bud. However, you must note that you can do several things to make your eyes less sensitive. For starters, make sure your eyes are healthy to prevent the conditions associated with light sensitivity. Eat healthily, sleep well, hydrate, and get regular well checkups, including a visit with your optometrist.
It would also help to minimize your gadget use as this can lead to dry eyes and eye strain. In turn, it will result in photophobia. To help your eyes, you can try wearing blue light blocking glasses to minimize your gadgets' glare. Similarly, you can also use a screen protector to filter out the light waves emitted by your device.
Should you suffer from migraines, be sure to avoid your triggers. Remember, photophobia can trigger your migraine. At the same time, while you are suffering from migraine, your eyes become even more sensitive to light. Pay attention to these details to ensure you prevent photophobia.
In addition, wearing sunglasses outdoors can provide relief for people with this condition. When your eye is sensitive to light, wearing UV protective shades and sun hats with wide brims help. If you wear corrective lenses, ask your optometrist about anti-glare and transition glasses. The former reduces the impact of bright lights, both indoor and outdoor sources. Meanwhile, the latter means your spectacles' lenses automatically adjust and darken depending on the light source.
How do you treat light sensitivity?
Most cases of photophobia are due to deeper problems like the ones stated above. If you want to truly resolve your eyes’ sensitivity to light, you need to seek medical help. Remember, treatment plans vary depending on the cause. After receiving proper medical guidance, you can find relief for light sensitivity.
Notably, some people are more sensitive to bright lights as dictated by nature. It is akin to your skin’s sensitivity to tolerate sunlight. For example, those with more melanin or darker skin naturally tan, while redheads with less pigment immediately burn. If you feel as if you suffer from photophobia, ask your optician for protective lenses with anti-glare or anti-reflection coating. These will minimize harsh office lights and other bright equipment. At the same time, polarizing lenses can also minimize the glare coming from highly reflective surfaces such as wet roads, water, mirrors, and snow.