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Photophobia: Sensitivity to Light

Photophobia: Sensitivity to Light
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light sensitivity

Photophobia refers to an extreme sensitivity to light exposure. A feeling of pain and discomfort will causes people with photophobia to close their eyes or squint in the presence of a normal degree of light. Photophobia is rarely regarded as a condition on its own, but normally occurs secondary to another condition or factor. It is a common disorders, with more than 200,000 new patients diagnosed in the U.S. every year.

What Causes Photophobia?

  • Migraines
  • Eye infections
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Nervous system conditions
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Inflammatory eye conditions
    • Uveitis
    • Iritis
    • Keratitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Dry eyes
  • Neurological conditions
  • Chiari Malformation
  • Brain tumor
  • Dyslexia
  • Injury to the eye
  • Mental illnesses
    • Depression
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Anxiety
    • Agoraphobia
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Albinism
  • Certain medications
    • Antibiotics
  • Keratosis Follicularis Spinulosa Decalvans
  • Chikungunya
  • Elevated trigeminal nerve tone

Types of Photophobia

There is only one known type of photophobia.


Photophobia Symptoms

  • Looking away from bright lights
  • Impulse to close eyes when exposed to light
  • Squinting when exposed to lights
  • Desire to stay in dark spaces or keep eyes closed
  • Getting a headache from exposure to light
  • Getting dizzy after exposure to light
  • Feeling nauseous after exposure to light

Diagnosing Photophobia

Your primary care physician will refer you to an ophthalmologist if they suspect that you have photophobia. An ophthalmologist can perform a thorough examination of your eyes to determine the underlying cause pf the photophobia. If there is nothing wrong with your eyes, they may refer you to another specialist such as a neurologist, to rule out certain other underlying conditions.

Treating Photophobia

Treatment of photophobia depends on the underlying cause. Photophobia that is caused by eye damage or other ocular conditions may be resolved once the injury or condition is treated. Light sensitivity that is the result of certain neurological conditions may be permanent. In these cases, avoiding triggers is the best treatment. This may include wearing sunglasses and avoiding exposure to excessive light.

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