Photophobia (Fear Of Light)

Overview; what is photophobia?

Generally, photophobia refers to the ‘fear of light.’ Photophobia can also be an intense intolerance towards light. Of course, light is supposed to help us visualize what is around us by bouncing back from the objects we’re looking at. However, when one becomes intolerant to the quality of light bouncing back, it becomes a problem.

Existing medical research shows that people with light-colored eyes are more likely to suffer from Photophobia compared to those with dark-pigmented eyes. It is quite natural when human eyes become sensitive to sudden flashes of light or sensitive to too much brightness from the light. Such discomfort should go away in a short while. However, when it comes to someone who has photophobia, he or she is more sensitive than others who do not experience such effects. Such pains and discomfort can extend for a significant time. Photophobia is a common problem that ranges from minor irritations to acute medical emergencies.

The following are some of the symptoms associated with Photophobia:

  • Feeling the urge to blink frequently
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • An intense need to close or squint your eyes
  • As you grow older, you might notice a difference in your sensitivity towards certain constant light levels.

What causes photophobia?

Of course, quite a number of people become more and more sensitive to light as they get older, although a few are naturally more sensitive to light than others. However, there are quite a number of factors that bring about photophobia.

1. Migraines

Migraine headaches are common causes of photophobia. Generally, migraine headaches are triggered by several factors, including hormonal changes, stress, foods, and changes of environment. This condition develops an impact on the light sensitivity of an individual’s eyes.

2. Conditions that affect the brain

Photophobia is quite often associated with a number of serious conditions that affect the human brain. Among the conditions are:

Encephalitis: This condition comes as a result of brain inflammation from a viral infection or other causes. The illness can bring about severe and life-threatening photophobic conditions.

Meningitis: This condition comes as a result of a bacterial infection that brings about inflammation of membranes around the brain and spinal cord.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: This condition occurs when one has a bleeding condition between the brain and surrounding tissues. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage can be quite fatal and often leads to brain damage or a stroke.

3. Conditions affecting the eyes

Photophobia is quite common in several conditions that affect the eyes such as:

Corneal Abrasion: This is an injury to the cornea; the outermost layer of the eye. Such injuries come as a result of getting sand, dirt or metal particles (to name just a few) in the eye. Such injuries bring about a serious condition medically referred to as corneal ulcer.

Scleritis: This condition comes about when the white part of the eye is inflamed. Scleritis is common to people between the age of 30 and 50 years, especially women. This condition is brought about by a decision that affects the immune system of an individual, such as lupus. Other symptoms include watery eyes, eye pains, and blurred vision.

Conjunctivitis: This condition is also referred to as ‘pink eye.’ It’s a condition that occurs when the tissues covering the white part of one’s eye are infected and inflamed. This inflammation is caused by viruses. However, other factors such as bacteria and allergies can also cause conjunctivitis. One might experience itching, eye pains, and redness of the eye.

Dry eye syndrome: This is also another common condition that occurs when the tear ducts in an individual’s eyes can’t make enough tears or make poor quality tears. Such factors make the eyes excessively dry. Among the major causes of this condition include age, environmental factors, medical conditions, and even some medications.

Treatment of photophobia

Of course, the best way to treat photophobia is to identify what actually caused the increased light sensitivity. If you’ve noticed that the medication you’ve been administered is bringing about light sensitivity, it is important to seek medical attention and not necessarily stop taking it without consulting a qualified medic.

One way of treating photophobia is by treating individual symptoms causing increased eye sensitivity, such as dry eyes. Such treatments quite often solve the problem. However, if the symptom persists, you might want to see a doctor. The specialist should be able to determine and to diagnose the root cause of your problem and suggest an effective treatment. For instance, if you’re diagnosed with a migraine related photophobia, the professional should administer prompt treatment for a migraine to resolve photophobia. Notwithstanding, it is important to understand that photophobia can occur before the pains begin or after the pains have resolved. It’s quite prone to migraine attacks with headaches.

Preventing photophobia

Perhaps your light sensitivity is naturally high; very sensitive to both natural and artificial light. It’s quite tempting to guard yourself against the light when it brings pain to your eyes. Worse still, living in darkness will only increase your sensitivity; you’ll definitely find it harder to stay in a bright environment.

One way to prevent photophobic problems is by wearing sunglasses that are comfortable to you. Sunglasses can be quite effective in controlling the wavelength, tint, or the light around you. Interestingly, blue-tinted light makes the most painful hue. Of course, blue is the color most often emitted by computers and mobile phones and many electronic gadgets. Sunglasses filtering the blue light through yellow, orange, and red can provide excellent relief. Better still, you can opt to invest in light bulbs that emit a band of light that does not trigger a migraine.

You can also take care not to contact conjunctivitis by maintaining good hygiene such as not touching the eyes or sharing makeup products. One can also get immunization to avoid being infected by those already suffering such conditions. What’s more, you might want to invest in a photochromic lens for your glasses. The lens automatically filters out the sun’s harmful rays and even darkens in a bright environment. This way, you’re sure to reduce your chances of getting photophobia.