Also known as: Light sensitivity, Vision - light sensitive or Eyes - sensitivity to light
- Acute iritis or uveitis (inflammation inside the eye)
- Burns to the eye
- Corneal abrasion
- Corneal ulcer
- Drugs such as amphetamines, atropine, cocaine, cyclopentolate, idoxuridine, phenylephrine, scopolamine, trifluridine, tropicamide, and vidarabine
- Excessive wearing of contact lenses, or wearing badly-fitted contact lenses
- Eye disease, injury, or infection (such as chalazion, episcleritis, glaucoma)
- Eye testing when the eyes have been dilated
- Migraine headache
- Recovery from eye surgery
- Avoid sunlight
- Close your eyes
- Wear dark glasses
- Darken the room
- When did the light sensitivity begin?
- How bad is the pain? Does it hurt all the time or just sometimes?
- Do you need to wear dark glasses or stay in dark rooms?
- Did a doctor recently dilate your pupils?
- What medicines do you take? Have you used any eye drops?
- Do you use contact lenses?
- Have you used soaps, lotions, cosmetics, or other chemicals around your eyes?
- Does anything make the sensitivity better or worse?
- Have you been injured?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- Pain in the eye
- Nausea or dizziness
- Headache or neck stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Sore or wound in eye
- Redness, itching, or swelling
- Numbness or tingling elsewhere in the body
- Changes in hearing
Photophobia is eye discomfort in bright light.
Photophobia is common. For many people, the problem is not due to any disease. Severe photophobia may occur with eye problems. It can cause bad eye pain, even in low light.
Causes may include:
Things you can do to ease light sensitivity include:
If eye pain is severe, see your health care provider about the cause of light sensitivity. Proper treatment may cure the problem. Get medical help right away if your pain is moderate to severe, even in low-light conditions.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The provider will perform a physical exam, including an eye exam. You may be asked the following questions:
Tell your provider if you have any of these symptoms:
The following tests may be done:
Ehlers W, Suchecki J, Steinemann TL. Contact lens-related complications. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 4.24.
Freidl KB, Troost BT, Moster ML. Migraine and other headaches. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Clinical Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol. 2, chap 16.
Godfrey WA. Acute anterior uveitis. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Clinical Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol. 4, chap 40.
Sharma R, Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 71.
- Review date:
- November 5, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2008 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.