Light sensitivity or photophobia

Photophobia means photosensitivity or light intolerance. Some people only experience discomfort in very bright light, while the affected person perceives any kind of light as disturbing in strong photophobia.
Possible light sources:

  • Sunlight
  • fluorescent light
  • Light from incandescent lamps
  • Candle flames
  • Fire

Photophobia usually affects people with light eyes, because they have less pigment in the multi-layered layers of the eye than people with dark eyes.
For this reason, they are unable to block exposure to strong light, such as that of the sun, or fluorescent light.


Causes of photosensitivity

The two most common causes of photophobia are migraine and blepharospasm (a movement disorder that causes frequent flashes of light).

Also, dry eyes can lead to photophobia in some people, for example if they suffer from diseases such as:

  1. Sicca syndrome
  2. Sjögren’s syndrome

A very common cause of photophobia is inflammation of the front eye area, which involves the iris.
The iris controls the size of the pupil and regulates the amount of light that enters the eye.
With inflammation of the iris, they contract in pain every time light enters the eye.

People with light eye color are more sensitive to light and glare, for example, people with albinism who completely lack pigmentation.

Corneal abrasions can cause persistent light intolerance, such as uveitis, an inflammation of the middle skin of the eye (uvea) consisting of the choroid, radiation body, and iris.

Diseases of the nervous system
The causes of photophobia include some neurological diseases such as:

  • retinal detachment, causing the appearance of flashes of light or shadows in the field of vision; as a rule, it is monolateral (only one eye is affected).
  • Optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve, usually caused by multiple sclerosis or vascular disorders.

Another common cause is cataract, a condition that means clouding of the lens of the eye.
Photophobia in this situation can easily be remedied by cataract surgery.

Light intolerance is also noticeable in the days following a surgical procedure such as LASIK and PRK, which are performed with an eye laser to correct refractive errors (myopia, astigmatism, etc.). It is a temporary disturbance that usually disappears after a few days.

Some medications and drugs can cause photophobia by causing pupil dilation over a long period of time, such as cocaine and amphetamines.
Medications that can lead to photophobia include:

  • some antibiotics such as tetracycline and doxycycline,
  • atropine for pupil dilation,
  • scopolamine,
  • Discontinuation of benzodiazepine, in this case, photophobia is a symptom of abstinence.

Other causes of photophobia

  • Allergic, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • Zoster ophthalmicus
  • Burns to the eye.
  • Corneal ulcer.
  • Lack of vitamin B2 or riboflavin leads to pupil dilation and thus to photophobia.
  • Excessive use of contact lenses or poorly fitted contact lenses;
  • Diseases, lesions or infections of the eye (for example, stye, episcleritis, glaucoma), keratoconus.
  • Botulism.
  • Eye examination for dilated pupil.

Psychological causes
Scientists at universities and medical centers are researching a better understanding of photophobia, which is often considered a mental rather than physical disorder.
However, some doctors strongly believe that it is a neurological and not psychological problem and should therefore be treated differently.
However, it has been observed that people with the following disorders are more prone to photophobia:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic attacks. As a rule, the panic attacks occur during the day in summer and spring, when there is a lot of light.
  • Agoraphobia
  • Bipolar disorder

Causes of photophobia and headaches

Migraine – a disease with the following characteristics:

  • unilateral headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomit
  • Photosensitivity
  • Noise sensitivity

Those who suffer from migraines retreat to a dark, quiet room.
As a rule, the cause is diet-related; therefore, if all the foods that can cause the symptoms (cheese and dairy products, sausages, chocolate, cereals containing gluten, etc.) are omitted, the patient is fine.
Nerve diseases include:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia, causes photosensitivity. The nerve fibers in the trigeminal nerve have their origin in the cornea, the iris (colored part of the eye) and also at the back of the eye.
  • Other neurological diseases that cause these symptoms may include tumors on the pituitary gland or meningitis (inflammation of the outer meninges).
  • Meningitis, a serious infection associated with feverneck painheadachedizzinessvomiting.
  • sinusitis.

Symptoms of photophobia

There are some obvious symptoms to detect an increase in photosensitivity, for example:

  1. discomfort in strong light or after sitting in front of the PC for a long time;
  2. urge to close your eyes;
  3. urge to blink;
  4. Eyestrain;
  5. watery eyes;
  6. Headache;
  7. Eyestrain;
  8. reddened eyes;
  9. clouded vision.

The intensity of the disturbance varies from person to person and also depends on the season. Of course, the problem is less obvious during the winter months.

Therapy for photophobia

First, the ophthalmologist must diagnose and treat the underlying condition and explain important behaviors to the patient, including advising not to wear sunglasses in the home.
People who wear dark glasses can actually get used to a darker environment and increase sensitivity to light.

Pink glasses FL-41
Preliminary research at the University of Utah shows that specially colored lenses can help people with photophobia. Many patients with photophobia prefer an FL-41 tint on sunglasses instead of green or yellow.
The tint FL-41 is a pink filter that has been shown to be helpful in patients with migraines, blocking the blue-green wavelengths.

In one examination, patients with blepharospasm without other conditions wore:

  • FL-4l sunglasses for two weeks,
  • then normal sunglasses for two weeks.

At the end of each period, patients completed questionnaires.
The result was that patients with blepharospasm decidedly preferred sunglasses with FL-4L tint over traditional sunglasses.

In a new study, researchers performed electromyography to measure the frequency, duration, and width of blinking in patients with blepharospasm.
The test was performed during a five-minute reading of patients with:

  1. normal glasses,
  2. glasses with a slight grey colour,
  3. glasses with FL-41 tint.

The results show objective evidence that FL-4l reduces blepharospasm.

FL-41 glasses are:

  • non-invasive,
  • have no side effects,
  • are not expensive.

Make sure the lenses block
blue and green light 
FL-41 lenses are available from opticians, but some so-called FL-4L lenses incorrectly bear this name.

You have to be sure that the optician knows these glasses and can make sure that they are really FL-41 lenses.
You can have a spectral analysis made of the lenses to make sure that they block the right light.

Natural remedies for photosensitivity

As a rule, the doctor recommends riboflavin B2 100 mg and with other vitamins from the B complex.
You take them 4 days a week for a few months.
Some foods that are high in zeaxanthin are helpful in photophobia, such as:

  • Paprika
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Chicory.

Another recommended substance is the carotene in carrots and vitamin A.

Those who work on the computer can temporarily solve the problem by choosing a darker background with less contrast.

Diet and nutrition for photosensitivity

According to natural medicine, a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition can:

  1. reduce irritation and inflammation in the eye;
  2. cure the disease that causes the photophobia.

Health hygienists recommend vegans a diet composed of the following:

  • raw food, especially fruits and vegetables,
  • nuts and seeds,
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes, preferably fresh.

According to nature hygiene, the following foods should be avoided:

  • all foods containing animal proteins (meat, fish, dairy products and eggs),
  • cooked food, especially at high temperatures (crackers and breadsticks are also prepared at very high temperatures),
  • processed and transformed foods.

Diseases such as photophobia can also be treated with the blood type diet, which has already helped many patients to heal.
According to this diet, proteins are the most important part of the diet, especially:

  • meat (but sausages and pork should be avoided),
  • fish (especially oily fish),
  • Eggs
  • Pulses
  • Pseudocereals such as quinoa and amaranth.

In principle, the following should be avoided:

  1. milk and dairy products,
  2. cereals containing gluten,
  3. Chewing gum
  4. fried and smoked foods.

According to the blood group diet, there are foods that can aggravate the disease, for example:

  • People of blood type 0 may experience symptoms after eating fruit, lentils, etc.
  • Members of blood type A have difficulty digesting red meat.
  • Discomfort can occur in individuals of blood type B due to tomatoes, sunflower oil, peanuts, etc.
  • For blood type AB, white beans, pumpkin seeds, chili peppers, oranges, etc. should be avoided.

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