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Updated on January 10, 2020


Photophobia of eyes shouldn't be confused in adults and children with such a serious illness as heliophobia (fear of exposure to the sun).

Some people experience increased eye sensitivity to light. This condition, as a rule, is accompanied by uncomfortable sensations: pains and burning in the eyes, as well as involuntary closing of the eyelids. Photophobia alone is not a disease. Often, it indicates the presence of various pathological processes in the body.

Hypersensitivity of the organs of vision to light source in a child or adult is commonly called photophobia. This condition is characterized by a painful reaction of the organs of vision to any source of both natural and artificial lighting. Involuntary closing of the eyelids, itching and burning in the eyes, as well as increased eye watering are the most characteristic symptoms of photophobia. In addition, such unpleasant phenomena as headache, dizziness, vomiting and nausea, and in severe cases, even loss of consciousness, may additionally appear.

When the retina gets exposed to light, a person triggers a reflex of involuntary squinting. There is a certain indicator of the light intensity at which this mechanism doesn’t work, and a person comfortably perceives light rays. This parameter may vary slightly in each case, but, as a rule, it has an average value. If the light intensity exceeds the norm, blindness and involuntary squinting of the eyes occur, which is not a deviation. However, if this reaction is observed at normal light intensity, then we can talk about a phenomenon such as photophobia. Ophthalmologists claim that photophobia as a disease doesn’t exist in nature. The presence of increased sensitivity to light can speak of various pathological conditions in the human body that are not necessarily associated with the visual system.

Photophobia of the eyes shall not be confused with a serious illness such as heliophobia (fear of sun exposure). It is an obsessive condition associated with an impaired functioning of the nervous system. Has nothing to do with the patient’s visual system. If so, getting help of a qualified psychiatrist is important.


• Involuntary closure of the eyelids;

• Increased lacrimation;

• Itching, burning, pain and pain in the eyes;

• Headache, dizziness;

• Vomiting, nausea, loss of consciousness

As a rule, these symptoms occur in both adults and children. They are observed only in direct contact with the light source. During the dark hours, symptoms disappear.


Hypersensitivity to light of the visionary organs may occur for a variety of reasons. The most common ones are inflammatory, infectious and other ones.

What kind of inflammation cause photophobia?

• Conjunctivitis (infection of the conjunctiva, also called as pinkeye);

• Keratitis (inflammation of the cornea);

• Iritis (inflammation of the iris).

Types of damage that lead to photophobia are sunburn, as well as erosion, ulcers and mechanical damage to the cornea, including those caused by the penetration of a foreign body or side effects of wearing correction lenses. In the absence of timely medical assistance, if you avoid doctor, the symptoms will get worse.

Reasons of photophobia can be from with some common diseases, such as flu, acute respiratory infections, migraines, an acute attack of glaucoma, etc. The use of certain medications also affects the sensitivity of the organs of vision to light. In addition, an uncomfortable symptom can occur due to adverse environmental influences, for example, when staying in the area for a long time with an excess of ultraviolet radiation.

Photophobia may also appear as a result of damage caused by excessively bright light. This is often observed during welding without protective glasses, as well as staring at the sun or the penetration of sun rays reflected from snow (snow ophthalmia). In addition, high sensitivity of the organs of vision to light often occurs against the background of constant drying of the cornea and increased visual stress. This is especially true for patients whose work is associated with staying at a computer.

Sometimes photophobia can be inherent. In this case, human eye reacts too strong to artificial or natural source of light due to insufficient or complete absence of a special pigment in the body (melanin). Also, the presence of such symptom may indicate the presence of various pathological conditions in the body.

Symptoms of photophobia can be related to following diseases:

• Various diseases of nervous system;

• thyroid disease;

• Infections (rabies and measles);

• Different hereditary diseases such as color blindness, etc.;

• Intoxication (poisoning with mercury)


Diagnosis of disease

If signs of photophobia last longer than three days, you need to contact an ophthalmologist and take a comprehensive examination of the organs of vision: ophthalmoscopy, a test done to diagnose the condition of the cornea, and some other diagnostic methods to determine the cause of the pathology. If test shows that the cause of photophobia is not associated with eyes, the patient will be assigned additional examinations: MRI or CT of the brain, ultrasound of the thyroid gland and others. In some cases, additional consultation with a neurologist may be required.

Before treating photophobia, it is important to know symptom and disease. Only in that case, physician will be able to prescribe a course of treatment. Often the elimination of the primary cause - underlying disease - leads to the disappearance of high sensitivity of eyes. In some cases, it is impossible to eliminate the cause, so the patient is recommended to make small adjustments every day in order to to prevent photophobia. On very sunny days, it is recommended to go out only in safety glasses with a high-quality UV filter and in a head covering such as brimmed hats.

Photophobia might be temporary. For instance, you get when a foreign body enters the eye. In this case, a moisturizing ophthalmic solution, the eye medications, can help, such as antiseptic or anti-inflammatory drops. However, it is advised to use drugs under the supervision of a physician.

There are some cases when photophobia is a genetic feature of the human body and is in no way associated with any disorders or other pathological processes. Then it is best advised to wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.

A person needs to seek help from physician as soon as possible if:

• Intolerance to light and eye pain result even with a small amount of lighting;

• When light enters, vision get clouded and this condition lasts for 2 days;

• Headaches, eyes get red;

• There is a strong need to wear sunglasses indoors.


Taking actions in advance will help prevent the occurrence of photophobia. Ophthalmologists recommend to reduce the time spent at computer, tablet - even for educational purposes. It is required to maintain the daily routine. It’s important to get a good sleep cycle: receive at least 8 hours for children and at least 7 hours for adults. Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime. In addition, you should walk in the fresh air, no less than 1 hour per day.

Another way to prevent photophobia is maintaining the eye hygiene. It will reduce the risk of penetration of various bacteria and microorganisms that cause such diseases, which provoke photophobia. Another important factor is a balanced diet, providing the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals. To relieve eyestrain, it is required to do simple exercises for the eyes. Ophthalmologists advise that taking short breaks from computer screens every half hour alleviates eyestrain.

People who spend long time outdoors due to work are advised to wear protective sunglasses. This applies to builders, drivers and representatives of other professions, who are often being exposed to the sunlight during the daytime.

© 2020 Bigsai


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