WHY ARE MY EYES SO SENSITIVE TO LIGHT?

Dr. Jim Martin 07/09/2015

7060922_orig.pngMany individuals are sensitive to light, a condition called photophobia. This sensitivity can range from a mild discomfort to extreme eye pain when the eyes are exposed to any type of light, including sunlight, fluorescent, or even candle flame. People with symptoms of photophobia may experience the need to squint or close their eyes, or have extreme tearing.

The condition is more common with people who have lighter colored eyes, as more light is able to enter the eye and reach the retina. Aging can also increase one’s sensitivity to light. If your sensitivity to light has suddenly increased or changed, or if you are experiencing moderate to severe pain, even in low-light settings, contact an eye care specialist.

3 Common Causes Of Photophobia

1. Dry Eyes

Sensitivity to light is a classic symptom of dry eye, caused by an absence of sufficient tears. This lack causes the eye surface to become dehydrated to the extent that cells on the exterior of the cornea die, and corneal nerves are left exposed. Sensitivity varies with dry eye conditions. Some people may simply need to wear sunglasses when outside, while others may find inside fluorescent light unbearably painful. Dry eye is chronic and requires continuous remediation.

2. Migraine

Light sensitivity is so common during a migraine that it is used as one criteria for diagnosis. Photophobia may begin in the first phases of a migraine attack and last through the headache phase. The convergence of visual and pain pathways in the brain result in light exposure worsening migraine pain, and for this reason, many migraine subjects hide out in the dark. Scientists are now researching methods to block the brain pathways, allowing migraine sufferers to experience light without pain.

3. Uveitis

The term uveitis covers a group of inflammatory diseases that cause eye swelling and eye tissue destruction. It can be initiated by infections or tumors, bruises, an attack from one’s own immune system, or contaminants that infiltrate the eye. The body’s natural reaction to contaminants, or tissue damage, is inflammation as specific white blood cells hasten to contain or destroy the affront. The result is swelling, reddishness, heat and tissue destruction. Light sensitivity, impaired vision, dark floating spots, and pain are some of the symptoms of uveitis. Steroidal anti-inflammatory treatments are generally prescribed by eye care professionals to reduce the pain and inflammation, stop tissue damage and restore vision loss in such cases.

If you have questions about your sensitivity to light, call today and make an appointment withBroome Optical in Amarillo. Once the cause of your photophobia is correctly diagnosed, an appropriate treatment plan will be prescribed to help moderate your light sensitivity.

Learn More Dry Eye Causes