Living with Photophobia

In spite of its name, Photophobia is not actually a fear of light. If you have it, your eyes are extremely sensitive to light. In fact, any form of light can cause extreme discomfort and pain. In most cases, only bright light will cause symptoms, but in some cases, any light can bring on a reaction.

What Causes Photophobia?

Photophobia is often caused by the onset of another condition, such as a migraine. Approximately 80% of migraine sufferers also have photophobia; some only during the onset of the attack, some even when they aren’t experiencing a migraine. Some eye conditions which could cause photophobia are, Corneal Abrasion, Scleritis, Conjunctivitis, Uveitis, Keratitis, Iritis, Cataracts, Blepharospasm, and Dry Eye Syndrome. Other conditions that may cause photophobia include, Meningitis, Encephalitis, brain injury, or tumors in the pituitary gland. Photophobia may also be brought on by eye surgery, including laser surgery.

How Can I Prevent Photophobia?

Although there is no guaranteed way of preventing photophobia, there are some ways of reducing the risk. Maintaining good hygiene and healthy habits to avoid disease and infection, including eye infection, is a great way to look after your all around health. Remember to wash your hands regularly, and to avoid touching your eyes as much as possible. Try to avoid being around people with conditions such as meningitis, conjunctivitis, etc. Be sure to get vaccinated against diseases such as encephalitis. Wear a helmet and other safety gear to help prevent head injuries when on the job or engaging in sporting activities. If you are prone to migraines, do your best to avoid potential triggers. These types of preventative measures not only help to avoid getting photophobia, they are also a great part of a healthy lifestyle.

What Do I Do If I Think I Have Photophobia?

How to respond to potential photophobia would depend upon the severity. In some cases a good, dark pair of sunglasses may solve the problem. Avoid going out in bright sunshine whenever possible, and when you can’t avoid going out, make sure to add a broad brimmed hat to further block the light. Stay indoors when possible, and consider using dimmers on your interior lighting. Taking time out of your day to relax in a darkened room with the lights out can also decrease discomfort. If problems are severe, make appointments with both your family doctor and your optometrist. Medical professionals who know you and your history can help by getting to the root of the problem, whether through eye drops or ointments, antibiotics to deal with potential infection, or through anti-inflammatory medications. In any case, always consult your optometrist when there is any sign of a problem with your vision. Never take chances with your eyes.