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What Is Photophobia and How Can One Find Relief?

Eyes that are extra sensitive to light can cause you a lot of discomfort and inconvenience. While some light sensitivity is normal with some people, an increase or excessive amount is problematic. Increased photosensitivity (also known as photophobia) can make doing normal tasks difficult. Keep reading to learn more about why eyes become more sensitive to bright lights and how your eye doctor can help.

What Is Photophobia?

Photophobia is an umbrella term for someone who has higher-than-average light sensitivity. It can range from mild to severe and include all types of light sources. You may only be sensitive to one light source or several. The condition can be natural or due to problems with the eyes.

Why Are Some People More Sensitive to Light?

Some people have a natural high sensitivity to light. For example, people with light-colored eyes (such as those with blue or blue-green eyes) tend to be more reactive to light. Those eye colors have less pigment to protect their eyes from harsh sunlight. Other people may have structural eye issues that amplify the light's effects.

What Are Some Eye-Related Photophobia Causes?

Some medical and eye-related conditions can cause photophobia. Examples of some of the most common causes of increased light sensitivity include:

  • Migraines
  • Detached or damaged retinas
  • Corneal abrasions
  • Dry eyes
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Keratoconus
  • Keratitis (corneal inflammation)

All of the above usually won't get better, or will become chronic without treatment.

How Can Eye Care Help Alleviate Photophobia?

Your eye doctor or ophthalmologist can help treat many eye-related photophobia causes. For example, anti-inflammatory eye drops may help with inflammation issues like keratitis. Regular eye drops may help with dry eye syndrome. You may need specialized treatment for retina-related issues.

You can also reduce problems by keeping your fingers out of your eyes and washing your hands before handling contact lenses. See your doctor if you have a medical condition like migraines.

What Can an Optometrist Do to Help With Photophobia?

An optometrist can help with this condition by prescribing glasses to correct unusual cornea issues. The doctor can suggest different types of sunglasses to reduce your light exposure. In some cases, you can get special contact lenses that reduce the amount of light entering your eyes.

If your eyes have high sensitivity to light, you do not have to suffer. Many people learn how to manage the condition to keep it from interfering with their daily activities. If you have vision problems, including ocular migraines, talk to your eye care doctor or optometrist for help.