Light sensitivity, also known as photophobia, is a condition in which your eye gets affected by exposure to bright light. It can be a classical symptom of specific eye diseases, and the discomfort in the eyes can vary according to the cause, which in severe cases can become painful (even in dim or normal light). Generally, people with colored eyes have a high tendency to develop light sensitivity.
Symptoms of eye sensitivity
In addition to the intolerance of light, some of the symptoms that are associated with light sensitivity are1:
- Pain in the eyes
- Blurry Vision
- Dry eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Difficulty in concentration
What causes sensitivity to light?
Light sensitivity is a symptom that can be caused due to several conditions that involve problems with the eyes and the brain:
- Cataracts: It can affect the vision of the eyes by causing a cloudy appearance. Photosensitivity is a symptom of cataracts which can be painful with routine tasks like reading or looking at screens.
- Conjunctivitis: It is characterised by inflammation of the eyes, in which eyes develop a pink hue due to infection or allergy, leading to irritation with little exposure to light.
- Blepharitis: this infection causes inflammation of the eyelid due to clogging of the oil glands in the eyelids, in which eyes are teary and pink.
- Retinal Detachment: In this condition, the retina is displaced from its position and affects the vision of the eye.
- Migraines: It can take place after exposure to bright light, which further causes nausea and headaches. Pain relief medication can be used to overcome the symptoms.
- Meningitis: This condition occurs when the surrounding brain and spinal cord become inflamed due to bacterial and viral infections. Patients with meningitis are sensitive to exposure to light.
- Encephalitis: It is associated with the inflammation of the brain tissues due to viral infection and autoimmune reactions. Light sensitivity and headaches are common symptoms which can lead to life-threatening complications.
- Haemorrhage: In this condition, bleeding occurs inside the brain due to any head injury, trauma, or accident. This is a fatal condition.
- Mental health Issues: Conditions such as anxiety and depression are associated with the symptoms of light sensitivity due to increased levels of stress hormones, which cause dryness in the eye in response to stress, which results in light sensitivity.2
Vitamins to help eye health
Vitamins that are beneficial for the health of the eyes are:3
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for eye health and produces retinal pigments that are required to maintain the eyes’ hydration.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C protects free radicals and protects the eyes from oxidative damage.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant for the protection of the eyes from a condition such as cataracts.
- Zinc: Zinc protects the retina by eliminating free radicals.
- Omega 3 fatty acid: It provides protection against any oxidative responses and inflammation.
When to see a health professional
Some cases of light sensitivity are not serious and can be treated, but if symptoms persist or you feel any discharge or redness in the eyes or have a fever, it is important to consult with an ophthalmologist before the symptoms worsen and lead to further complications. It is essential to know the cause of light sensitivity to treat the condition, which can only be done after proper diagnosis.
Light sensitivity is a symptom that can happen due to several conditions related to eye and brain diseases. Migraines are most commonly associated with light sensitivity. The symptoms of light sensitivity can be treated with vitamin supplements including vitamins A, C, E, and Zinc. However, it is important to find the underlying cause of this symptom after consultation with an eye doctor.
- Light sensitivity: causes and conditions associated with brain and eyes [Internet]. 1MD. [cited 2022 Sep 9]. Available from: https://1md.org/health-guide/eye/symptoms/light-sensitivity
- Photophobia (Light sensitivity): causes, symptoms & treatment [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Sep 9]. Available from: https://www.visioncenter.org/conditions/photophobia/
- The 7 best vitamins for eye health [Internet]. GoodRx. [cited 2022 Sep 9]. Available from: https://www.goodrx.com/health-topic/eye/vitamins-for-eye-health