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5 Causes of Light Sensitivity: Are Blue-Eyed Individuals More Sensitive to Light?

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5 Causes of Light Sensitivity: Are Blue-Eyed Individuals More Sensitive to Light?

The human eye is able to adjust to varying amounts of light to allow for better vision. The pigmentation or tinting of the eyes helps to prevent excess light from entering the eye and causing irritation. For some people, however, light sensitivity is a problem that can make it hard to be in brightly lit areas.

What is Light Sensitivity?

Light sensitivity or photophobia is a condition where the light levels are too bright in the environment and can cause discomfort. For mild cases, this can cause a person to close their eyes, squint, or blink excessively. For some people, their eyes may water or feel like they are burning.

For extreme issues of light sensitivity, individuals may be unable to see in brightly lit areas. They may even be unable to perform normal activities. Sensitivity to bright lights or sunny days can also cause pain to the eyes or even induce a headache.

Are Certain Eye Colors More Susceptible to Light Sensitivity?

The iris is the tissue at the front of the eye that controls the size of the pupil to allow in the right amounts of light. This area is usually colored and is where a person’s eye color is determined. The eye color a person has is dependent upon the amount of melanin in the iris.

Melanin helps to protect the eye from getting too much light in. For those with brown eyes, they have a lot of melanin. However, those with lighter-colored eyes have less melanin. Those with blue or gray eyes have very little. This means that those with lighter-colored eyes are more likely to have some sensitivity to light.

Eye Issues that Can Cause Light Sensitivity

There are many issues with the eyes that can cause sensitivity to harsh lights. Simply having an issue with dry eyes can cause individuals to find bright lights uncomfortable. A cornea injury, even just a scratch, could cause severe pain and discomfort from light.

Uveitis is a swelling of the inside of the eye and Keratitis is a swelling of the cornea. Both of these conditions could make light uncomfortable. For those with swelling of the iris, or Iritis, it can be difficult to regulate the light coming into the eye. This can make it uncomfortable to be around bright lights.

Cataracts are cloudy coverings over the lenses of the eye. Light sensitivity is a common problem for a person with this issue. Even after having surgery to remove cataracts, light sensitivity may remain or even worsen.

Any damage to the eye has the potential to create changes and issues with vision. This includes being more sensitive to bright lights. Injuries, surgeries, or even damage to the retina could make the eye more vulnerable to discomfort from light.

Migraines Can Cause Light Sensitivity

One of the most common causes of light sensitivity is migraine headaches. Nearly 80% of those who suffer migraines also report light sensitivity along with their headache. In some cases, this sensitivity can be extreme. Even low levels of light can be irritating and may even worsen their headache.

There are even many people who suffer from migraines who report some levels of light sensitivity even when they are not actively having a migraine headache. In some cases, this light sensitivity is thought to trigger a migraine when the light is too bright.

Brain Issues that Cause Sensitivity

There are brain conditions that can cause sensitivity to light. Meningitis is an acute infection caused by either a virus or bacteria. Meningitis causes inflammation of the covering around the brain and spine. Those with meningitis can experience new or worsened sensitivity to light.

There are many other brain or neurological issues that can be a cause of light sensitivity. Tumors on the pituitary gland have been known to cause light sensitivity. Supranuclear palsy and brain injuries can also cause sensitivity to light.

Mental Health Issues and Medications

There are various mental health issues that have symptoms that can include sensitivity to bright lights. Agoraphobia has been commonly associated with light sensitivity. Anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and panic disorders also have symptoms of light sensitivity in some patients.

There are medications that may cause sensitivity to sunlight or even fluorescent lights. Some antibiotics may cause this side effect. Quinine, a medication for Malaria, has also been known to cause sensitivity.

Some mental health issues can also cause sensitivity to light. Agoraphobia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and panic disorders have all been known to cause light sensitivity in those with these issues. A common diuretic called Furosemide has side effects that can include this issue.  

How Harmful is Light Sensitivity?

How harmful light sensitivity can be is greatly dependent upon the severity of the issue and the underlying cause. Those with mild sensitivity may only experience a little discomfort in bright light and can still continue with their daily routine without issue. Sunglasses, protective tinted lenses, or even changes in lighting can often relieve these issues.

Those with more severe issues may find their sensitivity is debilitating. Bright areas may prevent them from seeing properly and performing daily activities. In some cases, people can experience severe headaches and other issues due to the bright light.

How to Treat or Manage Mild Light Sensitivity?

Mild light sensitivity can be easily managed. Avoid being outdoors on very sunny days when possible. Wearing a hat with a brim or sunglasses when out in the sun. Tinted glasses can also be a benefit for mild sensitivity. There are tinted glasses that get darker when in the sun and transform to clear lenses in less light.

There are also various filters that can assist with indoor lighting that causes a problem. Specialty filters for fluorescent bulbs can reduce glare and help ease the issues with light sensitivity. There are even filters available to ease the glare from computer and phone screens.

For those with more severe forms of light sensitivity, these options can help with the problem but may not be enough. Often, the underlying condition needs to be addressed to find the best method to treating the problems with lighting. Those who are experiencing a new or sudden onset of issues with light should speak with their doctor to determine the cause of the problem.

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