Photophobia – Causes


You should know that the photophobia is a condition in which the bright light is hurting your eyes. Also, this condition is known as light sensitivity. This is a common symptom which is associated with several different conditions, which are ranging from mirror irritations to serious medical emergencies. When you have a mild case of photophobia, then it can squint you in a brightly lit room or while you are outside. When you have more severe cases of photophobia, then this condition can cause you a pain in your eyes when you are exposed to almost any type of light.

The photophobia can be a symptom of some underlying disease which directly does not affect the eyes, such as the virus – caused illnesses or severe headaches or migraine. Those people who have a lighter eye color can experience more light sensitivity in environments, such as bright sunlight, because people who have darker – colored eyes have more pigment to protect against harsh lighting.

You may not be able to prevent light sensitivity, but there are some behaviors which can help to prevent some of the conditions which can lead to photophobia. You should avoid the triggers which cause you to have migraine headaches. You can prevent conjunctivitis by practicing good hygiene, not touching your eyes and not sharing your eye makeup. Many people are using light – filtering shields which can help you if you are sensitive to sunlight or even strong indoor lightening. You should talk with your doctor which is the best way to protect your eyes from photophobia so you will be sure that no more damage will be caused to your eyes.

Photophobia – Causes


There can be many different conditions which can lead to photophobia, such as

  • Conjunctivitis: It is also known as pink eye and it is a condition which happens when the layer of tissue which covers the white part of the eye becomes infected or inflamed. Mostly, this condition is caused by viruses. Also, allergies and bacteria can lead to conjunctivitis. Some symptoms of this condition include eye pain, redness and itching. [1]
  • Corneal abrasion: This is an injury to the cornea. We know that the cornea is the outermost layer of the eye. It is a type of injury which is a common and it can happen if you get dirt, metal particles, sand or other substances in your eyes. This could lead to a serious condition which is known as a corneal ulcer if the cornea becomes infected. [2]
  • Meningitis: It is a bacterial infection which is causing inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. The bacterial form can lead to many serious complications, such as seizures, hearing loss, brain damage and even death. [3]
  • Migraines: It is noticed that the photophobia is a very common symptom of migraines. There are many different headaches which can be triggered by different factors, such as environmental changes, stress, foods and hormonal changes. Also, there could be other symptoms, such as vomiting, nausea and a throbbing in one part of your head. [4]
  • Dry eye syndrome: This condition is happening when the tear ducts do not make enough tears or they make poor quality tears. It is resulting in your eyes being excessively dry. This condition can be caused by environmental factors, age, some medications and certain medical conditions. [5]
  • Scleritis: This condition happens when the white part of your eye becomes inflamed. Usually, it affects people between 30 and 50 years. Most commonly, this condition is affecting women. This condition is usually caused by diseases which are affecting the immune system, such as lupus. The most common symptoms of this condition include blurred vision, watery eyes and eye pain.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage: This condition is happening when you have a bleeding between your brain and the surrounding layers of the tissue. This condition can be fatal or it can lead to a brain damage or a stroke. [6]
  • Encephalitis: This condition is happening when the brain is inflamed from a viral infection or other cause. The severe case of this condition can be life – threatening. [7]


[1] Dupuis P, Prokopich L, Hynes A, Kim H. A contemporary look at allergic conjunctivitis. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 2020;16.

[2] Fusco N, Stead TG, Lebowitz D, Ganti L. Traumatic corneal abrasion. Cureus. 2019;11(4):e4396.

[3] Digre KB, Brennan KC. Shedding light on photophobia. Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology. 2012;32(1):68–81. doi:10.1097/WNO.0b013e3182474548

[4] Noseda R, Bernstein CA, Nir RR, et al. Migraine photophobia originating in cone-driven retinal pathways. Brain. 2016;139(7):1971–86. doi:10.1093/brain/aww119

[5] Galor A, Levitt RC, Felix ER, Sarantopoulos CD. What can photophobia tell us about dry eye? Expert Review of Ophthalmology. 2016;11(5):321–4. doi:10.1080/17469899.2016.1222905

[6] Aydin N, Kotan D, Keles S, et al. An experimental study of the neurophysical mechanisms of photophobia induced by subarachnoid hemorrhage. Neuroscience Letters. 2016;630:93-100.

[7] Howes AS. Encephalitis. Medscape. 2018. Retrieved from


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