What Causes Light Sensitivity and Photophobia?

by Jan 18, 2021Contact Lenses, Glasses

Needing to squint and getting a headache from a sunny day is normal but certain individuals may be more affected than others.

In some cases, individuals may struggle with comfortable vision even on cloudy days due to their heightened sensitivity to light, or photophobia.

Below is a summary of why that may be the case as well as different ways to solve the issue.

Causes of Photophobia

There are a variety of reasons that one may be more sensitive to light. For starters, a disease process may be the underlying issue. If you are suddenly more sensitive to light than before, visit our optometrists so that they can complete a full eye exam and assess the health of the eye.

Conditions such as uveitis or a cut on the front of the eye may be the culprit and treatment with eye drops or a bandage contact lens may be needed. Migraines can also be associated with photophobia.

In other cases, being light sensitive may be something that you have dealt with for years. In these cases, it may be because you have larger pupils, thus letting more light in.

Another association with photophobia is having light colored eyes. These individuals have less pigment in their skin and eyes, thus blocking out less light that hits the back of their eye. Certain medications may also cause you to become more light sensitive.

Sunglasses Can Help Your Light Sensitivity

A simple and common option is sunglasses, often prescription sunglasses or photochromic lenses. Sunglasses can be popped on when symptoms are affecting your daily activities. A pair stored in the car or ready on hand in a purse are great options.

A photochromic lens is beneficial for those that do not want to deal with the hassle of switching into different pairs of glasses during the day. These lenses change colors when in the sun and exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays to provide a tint that helps decrease photophobic symptoms.

Another option is to ask for a permanent tint in your daily glasses that can provide comfort at all times. Tints come in a variety of colors and you may be able to sample them before ordering such that you can find a tint that alleviates your symptoms the best.

Specialty Contact Lenses

In severe cases, an individual may require a contact lens with a tint or coloring on the front to decrease the amount of light that enters the eyes.

Special contact lenses can be ordered with an opaque backing and a circle in the center to allow light to enter the center of the pupil.

These are often colored on the front to imitate the color of your iris. They are manufactured to order and customized for the patient.

Recently, a new soft contact lens has also come into the market that has the same technology as photochromic lenses. They change to become darker with UV exposure and provide comfort for those with light sensitivity. Ask our optometrist about this option at your next visit!

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Our eye doctors at Nittany Eye Associates excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online with one of our highly trained optometrists if you would like to learn more about your options if you have light sensitivity or photophobia. 

Be sure to visit Nittany Eye Associates where we always put the care of you and your family first at our convenient locations in State College, Matilda, Spring Mills, Tyrone, and Lock Haven PA areas.


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