Causes and treatments for photophobia

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Also named as light sensitivity, photophobia is a common eye problem that makes the patient uncomfortable with bright light such as sunlight, fluorescent light and incandescent light. It is formally explained as a symptom of excessive sensitivity to light and the aversion to sunlight or well-lit places. Some people may misunderstand photophobia as a morbid fear or phobia. In fact, this ocular problem is just an experience of uncomfortable light exposure. People with photophobia need to squint or close their eyes when they encounter bright lights. In a serious case, headache can be caused.

Possible reasons for light sensitivity

Light sensitivity can be just a symptom of various conditions. Common factors that may bring photophobia include eye infection, inflammation, virus-caused illness, severe headache and migraine. Photophobia can also result from a variety of eye diseases, such as corneal abrasion, uveitis, detached retina, contact lens irritation, sunburn and refractive surgery complications and so on. It is possible to list dozens of possible factors that may cause light sensitivity. Some others contain cataracts, corneal abrasion, corneal ulcer, optic neuritis etc. A majority of possible reasons can be divided into two categories: eye-related and nervous-system-related.

Who are more likely to suffer photophobia?

Photophobia is often associated with total color deficiency, botulism, rabies, mercury poisoning, conjunctivitis, keratitis and iritis. Eye pigment insufficiency is another contributor to photophobia, so that people with lighter eyes or albinism (lack of pigment) are more likely to suffer from light sensitivity. Darker eyes have more pigment to block out harsh lights. Some unusual diseases such as KFSD and certain medications such as belladonna, quinine and Doxycycline are also reported as possible causes of photophobia.

Different treatments for photophobia according to specific causes

Treatments for light sensitivity vary significantly, depending on different causes. For people with acquired photophobia, the most effective treatment is to remove the underlying reason. For instance, it is necessary to replace the current medication that has caused light sensitivity. Once the triggering factor is removed, photophobia will go away. Wide-brimmed hats and UV sunglasses offer helpful protection from harsh light sources. People with serious photophobia may need prosthetic contact lenses, which can prevent a large amount of lights from entering their eyes.