Photophobia or light sensitivity is a condition which affects the eyes, causing them to become sensitive to bright lights. It is a common symptom that occurs in conjunction with several different conditions such as migraines, conjunctivitis and dry eye syndrome.
In mild cases photophobia will cause the individual to squint while outside or in a brightly lit room, however in more severe cases the individual can experience extensive amounts of pain when exposed to almost any type of light.
Photophobia can be tied to other medical conditions, some more severe than others. These include:
- Migraines- Can be triggered by hormonal changes, foods and environmental changes. It can cause symptoms such as severe headaches, nausea and vomiting. It has been found to affect more than 10 percent of people around the world and occur three times more often in women than in men.
- Dry Eye syndrome- Occurs when the tear duct is not able to make enough tears to lubricate the eye, resulting in the surface becoming excessively dry. This can be caused by age, environmental factors, some medical conditions and medications.
- Conjunctivitis- Also known as ‘pink eye’ is mainly caused by a virus that infects the tissue around the eye, causing it to become infected or inflamed. This can result in discharge, often causing a crust over the eye especially after sleep, itching, redness and eye pain.
- Meningitis- A bacterial infection that causes the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. Symptoms include a severe headache, fever and chills, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting.
There are treatments available that can alleviate the pain and subside any symptoms that may occur from the conditions linked to photophobia. These can include medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and artificial tears
Some treatments that can be done at home to minimise the symptoms are to rest, stay out of the sunlight, keep lights dimmed inside and keep the eyes closed and covered with dark tinted glasses.
As seen above, photophobia can be linked to several severe medical conditions. If you are experiencing any symptoms of photophobia it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.