Light Sensitivity

Light Sensitivity (Photophobia)

Literally translated as “fear of light,” photophobia is a fairly common symptom during which a person’s eyes are so sensitive to light that exposure to normal illumination causes discomfort and even pain. The pain caused by photophobia distinguishes it from other light-sensitive eye conditions that can cause blurry vision or other uncomfortable visual effects.

People can have photophobia from a very young age, but this type of light sensitivity can also develop gradually or come on suddenly later in life.

What Causes Photophobia?   

Light-sensitive eyes can sometimes be symptoms of conditions that affect the brain. A prominent example is the eye sensitivity to light that accompanies migraines, which are headaches distinguished by severe, throbbing pain, frequently on one side of the head. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 80% of people who have migraines also experience photophobia.

Migraine is the most common neurological cause of photophobia, but some others include:

  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage

Photophobia can also be caused by eye conditions, such as:

  • Corneal abrasion
  • Scleritis
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Dry eye syndrome

Photophobia Prevention and Treatment

If you have photophobia, you may not be able to eliminate episodes of painful light sensitivity altogether. But pinpointing the cause of your light-sensitive eyes is key to preventing the debilitating effects of this symptom.

For example, if you have photophobia when you have a migraine, it’s a good idea to keep a record of circumstances or activities that trigger your migraines and try to avoid those. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently is a good way to prevent both conjunctivitis and meningitis. And you can talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against meningitis and encephalitis.

Accurately diagnosing the condition that’s causing photophobia is also critical to developing an effective treatment plan. Depending on the underlying cause, your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops, artificial tears, or other treatments to alleviate your eye sensitivity to light.

Florida Medical Clinic’s experienced ophthalmologists treat photophobia and many other eye conditions at our locations in Land O’ Lakes, New Tampa, North Tampa, and Zephyrhills. Click here to request an appointment.

Proudly Serving: Land O’ Lakes, New Tampa, North Tampa, and Zephyrhills.

New Tampa - 15260 Amberly Drive Tampa, Florida 33647

New Tampa

15260 Amberly Dr
Tampa, Florida 33647


New Tampa

15260 Amberly Dr
Tampa, Florida 33647

Light Sensitivity Hours
  • Mon – Fri: 7:30am-12pm and 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Light Sensitivity Care Team at this location:
Also at this location:
North Tampa - 13602 North 46th Street Tampa, Florida 33613

North Tampa

13602 N 46th St
Tampa, Florida 33613


North Tampa

13602 N 46th St
Tampa, Florida 33613

Also at this location:
North Tampa - 14014 North 46th Street Tampa, Florida, 33613

North Tampa

14014 N 46th St
Tampa, Florida 33613

Suite A


North Tampa

14014 N 46th St
Tampa, Florida 33613

Suite A

Light Sensitivity Care Team at this location:
Zephyrhills - 38135 Market Square Zephyrhills, Florida 33542
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