What is Light Sensitivity?

Light sensitivity is a common condition that affects many individuals. It can be a bothersome and sometimes debilitating issue, causing discomfort and limiting one’s ability to engage in daily activities. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of light sensitivity, common treatments, and how it affects people.

older woman with light sensitivity photophobia

Light sensitivity, called photophobia, while a symptom itself, indicates an underlying condition. Some of the potential causes of photophobia include eye infections, dry eye syndrome, corneal abrasions, migraines, cataracts, uveitis, and certain medications, among others. It’s crucial to consult with an eye care professional to identify the specific cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Symptoms of Light Sensitivity

Photophobia is characterized by an abnormal sensitivity to light, which can result in various uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms may include:

Eye Discomfort

Photophobia often leads to eye discomfort or pain when exposed to bright lights, causing the eyes to feel sore, strained, or achy.


Excessive squinting or closing of the eyes in response to light is a common symptom, which can lead to headaches and fatigue.

Blurred Vision

Light sensitivity can cause blurred or hazy vision, making it difficult to see clearly in bright environments.


Individuals with photophobia may experience excessive tearing or watery eyes as a protective response to light exposure.


Frequent exposure to bright light sources may trigger headaches or migraines in those with photophobia.

Difficulty Reading

Reading or focusing on objects in bright light may become challenging for individuals with light sensitivity.

Avoidance of Light

People with photophobia often avoid bright environments and may prefer dimly lit spaces to minimize discomfort.

Effects of Light Sensitivity on Daily Life

Daily Activities

Light-sensitive individuals may find it challenging to engage in regular daily activities, such as reading, working on a computer, or going outside on sunny days.


Glare from headlights and sunlight can make driving difficult for those with photophobia, potentially increasing the risk of accidents.

Outdoor Activities

Enjoying outdoor activities, such as sports or leisurely walks, can become limited due to discomfort from bright sunlight.

Work and Productivity

People who work in well-lit environments or use computers extensively may experience reduced productivity and discomfort.

Social Interactions

Light sensitivity can interfere with social gatherings, as bright lighting in restaurants or events may cause discomfort.

Quality of Life

Overall, light sensitivity can impact an individual’s quality of life, leading to frustration, isolation, and a reduced ability to enjoy everyday experiences.

Conditions That Can Cause Light Sensitivity (Photophobia)

Eye Infections

Eye infections, such as conjunctivitis or keratitis, can lead to photophobia as the eyes become more sensitive to light during the infection.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Individuals with dry eye syndrome may experience photophobia due to insufficient tear production, leading to discomfort when exposed to light.

Corneal Abrasions

Corneal abrasions or injuries to the eye’s outermost layer can result in photophobia as the damaged cornea becomes more sensitive to light.


Migraine headaches are often associated with photophobia as one of the accompanying symptoms during a migraine attack.


Clouding of the eye’s natural lens, known as cataracts, can cause light sensitivity as the cataract reduces the eye’s ability to filter and focus light properly.


Uveitis, inflammation of the eye’s uvea, can lead to photophobia along with other symptoms like eye pain and redness.

Certain Medications

Some medications, such as specific antibiotics, antipsychotics, or topical eye drops, may cause photophobia as a side effect.

Other Underlying Medical Conditions

Various medical conditions, including neurological disorders, viral illnesses, and autoimmune diseases, can be associated with photophobia as a symptom.

It’s essential to consult with an eye care professional to identify the specific cause of photophobia and receive appropriate treatment and management.

Common Treatments for Light Sensitivity

Fortunately, there are several treatments and strategies available to manage and alleviate light sensitivity, or photophobia. These treatments are tailored to address the underlying causes and provide relief to affected individuals:

Prescription Eyewear

Specialized eyeglasses or contact lenses with tinted or photochromic lenses can help reduce sensitivity to light. These lenses can filter out excessive brightness and glare.


Wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection is crucial when outdoors. Polarized lenses can also help reduce glare from reflective surfaces.

Adjusting Lighting

At home or work, consider using adjustable lighting to control brightness. Dimmer switches and the use of curtains or blinds can help create a more comfortable environment.

Anti-Reflective Coatings

Applying anti-reflective coatings to eyeglass lenses can minimize glare and improve visual comfort.


In some cases, underlying medical conditions may contribute to photophobia. Treating these conditions can alleviate light sensitivity.

Treatment of Underlying Eye Conditions

Eye conditions like dry eye, corneal abrasions, or infections may cause photophobia. Addressing these conditions can help reduce sensitivity.

Tinted Screens

For individuals who work on computers or use digital devices, using tinted screens or filters can reduce glare and discomfort.

Cataract Surgery

In cases where cataracts contribute to light sensitivity, cataract surgery may be recommended to replace the clouded natural lens with a clear artificial one.

Contact Tennessee Eye Care for Light Sensitivity Solutions

If you or a loved one is struggling with light sensitivity, it’s essential to seek professional care and support. At Tennessee Eye Care, our team of experienced eye care professionals is here to provide tailored solutions to alleviate your discomfort and enhance your quality of life.

With locations in Harrison, Knoxville, Lenoir City, Morristown, and Powell, we offer convenient access to expert eye care services. Don’t let light sensitivity limit your life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward a brighter, more comfortable future. Our dedicated team is here to support you on your journey to improved eye health and visual comfort.

Need help? Contact our office to schedule an appointment.