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What Causes Light-Sensitive Eyes?

Do you find that sometimes light can cause you to squint or it makes your eyes feel uncomfortable? Do you tend to shy away from areas of brightness and prefer environments that are a little darker? Trying to avoid bright situations to avoid uncomfortable eyes might have you questioning if you’re part vampire. But having eyes that are sensitive to light (medically known as photophobia) is not only irritating but it is also common. But what causes light-sensitive eyes? Here are some reasons that cause eyes to be photophobic and some solutions to help with the discomfort. Read on to find out more!

Common Causes Of Light-Sensitive Eyes

There are many different reasons which can cause light-sensitive eyes. First off, know that photophobia is not an eye disease but is an eye condition and can often be a result of something else afflicting the eyes. Because of this, it is important to know what is causing your light-sensitive eyes so you can best know how to try and manage or treat it.

Light-Sensitive Eyes Due to Eye Structure

Now, for some people having light-sensitive eyes is unavoidable because it is just coded into genetics. People who have blue or lighter colour eyes might find that they are more sensitive than people with darker coloured eyes. This is because lighter colour eyes lack pigment that helps protect us from light.

The shape and size of a person’s pupil also might play a role in how light affects them. People who have larger then normal pupils or pupils that are misshapen (such as an Iris Coloboma) might also find that they are photophobic. This is because the pupil regulates how much light enters the eyes. So, if a pupil lets more light in, there is a greater chance of having discomfort from it.

Eye Conditions And Diseases Which Cause Photophobia

If you find that your eyes are often more uncomfortable than not in brighter environments. Or that you prefer to wear your sunglasses more than most people, it is worth finding out the reason for your light-sensitive eyes. Sometimes photophobia may be the sign of a more serious condition.

Eye Injuries and Infections

Sustaining an eye injury can result in photophobia. Trauma to the eye can temporarily or permanently change or damage structures within the eyes which regulate light. Eye injuries can also result in a corneal abrasion which also may cause light sensitivity. Another type of eye injury is a “sunburn” to the eyes (photokeratitis). Photokeratitis is extremely painful and causes extremely light-sensitive eyes.

Eye Infections, Diseases or Conditions

Other eye conditions such as eye infections (conjunctivitis) or uveitis also commonly cause photophobia. When left untreated, some eye infections or condition can cause irreversible damage to delicate eye tissue. This not only can cause chronic photophobia but in severe cases, it can also cause damage to vision or vision loss.

Visit Your Optometrist

If you are experiencing discomfort from light-sensitive eyes it is a good idea to visit the optometrist. The optometrist can help identify what the cause of your light sensitivity is. If it is the result of an underlying condition they may be able to treat the problem which in turn will help resolve light sensitivity.

If light sensitivity was just something you were born with, the optometrist can also recommend vision solutions, such as specific sunglasses, lens tints or contact lenses which can help make bright environments more comfortable.

Book an Appointment

If you live in the Calgary area, we are always happy to help out new patients. To book an appointment you can conveniently do so online or call our office during regular business hours at (403) 255-2826

This article was written by Trina Vanaalst, Registered Contact Lens Practitioner.

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