People who suffer from a variety of vision problems may refer to themselves as being "blind as a bat." That being said, you may be surprised to learn that those who are experiencing light sensitivity, or discomfort from fluorescent light, or bright sunlight are actually experiencing vision problems similar to a bat’s intolerance of sunlight. While bats’ daytime eyesight is considered to be poor, it might be interesting to note that bats are not blind but, rather, just hypersensitive. The human condition of over sensitivity to light is medically referred to as photophobia. Good news is that this is not a disease; it is often the byproduct of other circumstances. For example, persons with light-colored eyes are naturally more susceptible to photophobia than those who have darker irises.
The best treatment for light sensitivity is to treat whatever the underlying cause of the condition might be; to learn about the most common culprits, read on!
Most people refer to Conjunctivitis, by its better known name, pink eye. One of the most common symptoms of this disease is sensitivity to bright light. Pink eye occurs when either allergies, bacteria, or a virus penetrate the eye or eyelid. When the conjunctivitis virus is present it causes inflammation of the "white" of the eye (sclera) and the inner eyelid surface. Besides itching madly, pink eye sometimes is associated with white, yellow or green eye discharge that forms into an eyelash crust. Conjunctivitis occurs mostly due to allergies or infection caused by viruses and bacteria. If you suspect that you have pink eye, please consult with a medical professional immediately.
Eye cataracts create an unusual sensitivity to light. Early symptoms can include blurry vision, or a heightened sensitivity to light and glare. In a normal eye, light passes through the lens located in the retina. When a cataract occurs, the eye lens becomes covered in a clouding. Think of it as someone who smeared grease across the lens of your eye. This clouding prevents the proper amount of light to reach the eye retina. Cataracts can start out thinner and let some light through, but without treatment can grow to be completely opaque clouds that eventually cause blindness. There are many causes of eye cataracts, the most common being natural aging.
The Uvea is the middle layer of the eye that rests between the eye retina and the sclera. For unknown reasons, a uvea can become inflamed and cause redness and pain in the eye. This condition, called uveitis, affects adults ages 20 to 50. Scientists believe some cases of Uveitis might be related to outside influences, like cigarette smoke. The other outside cause might be related to acids used in manufacturing processes, or pesticide exposure.
A Retinal Detachment is a disorder in which the retina pulls away from its support tissue. Symptoms of a retinal detachment are noticeable immediately. The affected person may see floating spots in their field of vision, or experience light flashes in one or both eyes. Sensitivity to light is extreme for someone with a detached retina. Seek help from your doctor right away to avoid a complete detachment that can lead to vision loss, or worse, blindness.
It is fairly common to experience sensitivity to light upon first emerging from LASIK eye surgery. Luckily, this state should dissipate within the first week. If it lasts longer, you may have developed Transient Light Sensitivity (TLS) as a result of the procedure. Consult with your doctor and inquire about specialized eye drops to curb the hypersensitivity. Visit our blog to read more about the advantages and disadvantages of LASIK surgery.
If none of these medical conditions describe your light sensitivity that is good news. Some people are just more sensitive to light than others. If sunlight or fluorescent lights really are causing you discomfort or headaches, there are a number of steps you can take to be more comfortable.
If you work on a computer and the computer light causes symptoms such as difficulty focusing, eyestrain, or headaches, consider purchasing an anti-glare filter or anti-glare computer display screen. Anti-glare screens come in a variety of types including flat and wrap around screens.
If bright sunlight causes you discomfort, consider purchasing a quality pair of polarized sunglasses. When choosing protective eyewear, sunglasses that are labeled to provide 100% UVA protection are best. Furthermore, consider obtaining a prescription to Acuvue lenses, as all of their contacts provide UV protection.
Contact lens wearers that experience light sensitivity might be utilizing the lenses long after the suggested date of disposal. Wearing your contacts longer than what is recommended by your doctor may cause deposits to develop on the contact lens surface. This of course can lead to eye irritation, and in the long term may lead to light sensitivity. Wearing a prosthetic contact lens that mimics the color of your eye can be effective in prevention of light sensitivity. The best rule of thumb is to keep your contact lenses clean.