Help and frequently asked questions

What is sudden photophobia?


Photophobia is the term used to describe sensitivity to light. This may be an ordinary condition in some people, although it may be a sign of something more serious if sensitivity is sudden or without prior occurrences. Light is extremely important for vision. Many of the eye's components have a function that affects how light travels through the eye. For instance, the pupil changes in size to let more or less light into the eye and the iris (the coloured ring around the eye) controls this movement.The lens and the cornea bend light to focus it onto the retina, which is a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye that sends image signals along the optic nerve to the brain.

What could be causing my sudden photophobia?

As most parts of the eye deal with light in some way, a diagnosis of photophobia can be tricky. Many conditions can present with light sensitivity as a symptom. Some common causes of sudden photophobia include infections, systemic diseases, trauma and ocular problems. You should always visit an optometrist when you experience a sudden sensitivity to light, as it can be a symptom of a serious condition such as meningitis. Here is a list of potential causes for photophobia:

  • Infections
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Botulism
  • Lyme diseaseSystemic diseases
  • Migraines
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Trauma
  • Burns
  • Corneal abrasions and ulcers
  • Retinal detachment

Can sudden photophobia be treated?

The treatment for sudden photophobia usually depends on the underlying cause and its severity. In some cases, such as macular degeneration, there may be no cure and treatments will tend to revolve around coping with the condition. One of the easiest ways to protect against glare is by limiting the amount of light able to enter the eye using tinted lenses or sunglasses. Many people may also choose to wear a hat with a wide brim. It is important that sunglasses also have UV protection to block harmful rays. Investing in photochromic lenses may be an option for people who prefer the convenience of not having to switch between multiple pairs of glasses.Precision tinted lenses can be helpful for people who experience migraines. These reduce glare from pages of text, which can be a problem with those who have dyslexia.Some people may also require a task light for certain activities, such as reading. An adjustable lamp should provide more light when needed.