If you have been diagnosed with photophobia or think you may have it, education is key. It is helpful to learn more about this issue so you understand what it is, why it occurs and how it is treated.

woman pinching nose bridge turned away from the lightPhotophobia Definition

Photophobia is classified as an extreme sensitivity to light. Photophobia is not a disease on its own. It is usually a symptom caused by another condition. It can be extremely painful, frustrating and debilitating at times. When exposed to bright light, look for the following:

  • the inability to be in the sun without squinting
  • searching out dark or shady areas for relief
  • nausea or dizziness
  • headaches or migraines
  • eye pain

Some of these symptoms can be normal if they are mild and are not associated with pain. If they become significant enough that you avoid the sun or alter your habits, it is time to see a doctor.

Photophobia Causes

Photophobia is caused by a problem with the nerve that connects your eye to your brain. However, the reason you have this issue can be caused by a range of things, including medications and eye injuries or conditions. Causes can also include:

  • migraines
  • meningitis
  • brain injury
  • supranuclear palsy
  • pituitary gland tumors
  • anxiety, depression, and other mental illness
  • LASIK or other eye surgeries

Now that we’ve identified causes and symptoms, let’s look at what can be done to ease the discomfort.

Photophobia Treatment

Treatment can be as simple as changing glasses or contacts, but it might require more extensive lifestyle changes like changing medications, limiting sun exposure or wearing special sunglasses. The best course of action is to identify and fix the underlying condition causing the photophobia. To determine if you do have photophobia, a doctor will usually do an eye exam and possibly an MRI.


If you think that you have photophobia or want further information on it, then please call the Michigan Head & Neck Institute at (586) 573-0438. We can help you better understand your condition and help devise a plan for treatment.