Photophobia: causes, symptoms and treatment

Photophobia refers to increased sensitivity to light, which can lead to pain or avoidance. People with the condition find normal light to be too bright.

Migraines and dry eyes are common causes photophobia. Additional causes include an array of other disorders that affect the neurological system, eyes, and mental health.

Treatment of photophobia concentrates on the relief of the underlying disorder. However, wearing glasses with a pink tint called FL-41 can also help.

Preventive measures consist of allowing more natural light inside while reducing the brightness of the lighting of electronic devices.

Keep reading to learn more about photophobia, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Photophobia is increased sensitivity to light. As the term derives from the Greek words “photo” which means light and “phobia” which means fear, it literally denotes a fear of light.

The abnormal response to light varies among individuals. According to a 2017 study, the tenderness may be manifested by pain or discomfort in the eyes or an avoidance reaction.

Certain conditions and several drugs can cause photophobia, according to the elderly 2012 research. In addition, certain types of lighting are more likely to trigger it.

Terms & Conditions

Photophobia is a symptom of certain conditions affecting the neurological system, eyes, and mental health.

These include:

Neurological disorders

Migraine headaches are the most common neurological disorder that can cause photophobia, as this condition occurs in 80-90% people with headaches. This happens during headaches as well as between them.

In fact, the American Migraine Foundation (AMF) notes that photophobia is so common in people with migraines that it is one of the criteria used by doctors in diagnosing migraines.

Other neurological conditions that can cause photophobia include:

  • Blepharospasm: This term describes the involuntary blinking, closing and compressing of the eyelids.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: It is serious brain damage that affects its functioning.
  • Meningitis: This condition causes inflammation of the protective covering of the brain.

Learn more about the types of meningitis here.

Eye disorders

The most common eye condition that can cause photophobia is dry eyes. This happens when a person’s tear production is insufficient to provide optimal lubrication.

Other eye conditions that can cause photophobia include:

  • conjunctivitis, which is inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue covering the white parts of the eye
  • corneal disease, which is the term for disorders affecting the cornea, the tissue covering the iris, and the pupil
  • optic neuritis, which is inflammation of the optic nerve
  • uveitis, an inflammation that occurs inside the eye and may be associated with autoimmune disorders

Psychological conditions

Several psychological conditions can cause photophobia. They understand:


Photophobia can be a side effect of the following drugs:

  • benzodiazepines, which are anti-anxiety drugs, such as diazepam (Valium)
  • barbiturates, which are drugs that cause sedation, such as amobarbital (Amytal)
  • haloperidol (Haldol), which treats certain mental health problems
  • chloroquine (Aralen), an antimalarial medicine

Illuminated triggers

According to the AMF, the brighter the light, the more discomfort a person feels. The wavelength of blue light also produces more sensitivity than other wavelengths. Other triggers understand flickering light and light in striped patterns. The Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA) adds that fluorescent lights can also act as a trigger.

Photophobia can cause or aggravate pain or physical discomfort in the eyes. It can also produce avoidance, a reaction that stems from feeling that normal light is too bright. Avoidance symptoms can include:

  • squint
  • flashing frequently
  • find strong sunlight or bothersome interior light

A person with photophobia may have a preference for:

  • cloudy days on sunny days
  • dimly lit rooms above brightly lit rooms
  • go out after dusk rather than during the day

Doctors base a diagnosis on the results of the Following:

  • health history
  • eye exam
  • neurological examination if other symptoms indicate that it is necessary
  • possibly an MRI

Instead of asking a person if their eyes are sensitive to light, doctors can sometimes ask more detailed questions to determine the presence and severity of photophobia. For example, they may ask, “Do you prefer to stay home on sunny days even if it is not hot?”

There is little evidence that systemic drugs can relieve photophobia. With this in mind, the to concentrate Treatment is to relieve the underlying condition that causes photophobia. If the condition causing the photophobia improves, the photophobia may also decrease. This strategy may involve drugs, such as:

  • triptans, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex), which are migraine medications that calm overactive painful nerves
  • botulinum toxin (Botox) to treat blepharospasm
  • benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), to relieve anxiety
  • artificial tears, gels and ointments for dry eyes
  • steroid eye drops to treat uveitis

Using glasses in a pink tint called FL-41 may help some people because it blocks the wavelengths of blue light.

The VeDA recommends that people take steps to reduce or prevent photophobia. These include:

  • wearing an anti-glare hat, cap or sunglasses outside
  • allowing as much natural light as possible inside
  • avoid using fluorescent lights indoors
  • reduce the brightness setting of electronic devices, such as televisions, phones, and computers
  • avoiding wearing sunglasses indoors as chronic darkness increases sensitivity to light
  • using specialized lenses that filter out the most problematic wavelengths of light

Additionally, the AMF suggests slowly building up light exposure to increase tolerance. At work or at home, this could involve sitting near a window. It may also be helpful to use bulbs that only emit green light, as green is a wavelength of light that does not trigger a migraine.

Photophobia is an increased sensitivity to light, which can manifest as eye pain or an aversion response to a brightly lit area.

It is one of the symptoms that can occur in many conditions affecting the neurological system, eyes, and psychiatric health. Additionally, it can be a side effect of some medications.

Fluorescent light, flickering light, and light in striped patterns are more likely to trigger an adverse reaction.

The main goal of treatment is to relieve the disease causing photophobia.

Comments are closed.