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Ophthalmology 2023

Photophobia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Photophobia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Photophobia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Photophobia is an increased sensitivity or intolerance to light or brightness, which causes pain or discomfort when looking at light, increased tear production, difficulty opening or keeping the eyes open, and usually occurs in both eyes, but it can also affect only one eye.

Photophobia can be caused by eye changes such as dry eye syndrome, eye inflammation such as uveitis or conjunctivitis, or by neurological conditions such as migraine, encephalitis or meningitis, for example. In addition, photophobia can also occur in some situations, such as excessive contact lens wear or during recovery from eye surgery.

Treatment of photophobia is carried out by the ophthalmologist or general practitioner who may indicate the use of medication depending on what is causing the sensitivity to light, and adopt measures such as wearing sunglasses or with photochromic lenses.

Main symptoms

Photophobia is characterized by aversion or increased sensitivity to light or brightness, which may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Pain or discomfort when looking at the light;
  • Increased production of tears;
  • Feeling that ambient light is excessive;
  • Seeing colored or bright spots, even in the dark or with eyes closed;
  • Difficulty reading;
  • Decreased visual capacity;
  • Sensation of dry eyes;
  • Difficulty opening or keeping eyes open.

In addition, depending on the type of alteration that causes photophobia, there may be eye pain, or even manifestations in other parts of the body, such as fever, weakness, nausea or joint pain, for example.

Thus, in the presence of sudden, intense or repetitive photophobia, it is important to consult an ophthalmologist for assessment of vision and eye conditions, in order to find the cause and indicate the appropriate treatment.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of photophobia is made by the doctor through the analysis of symptoms and ophthalmological and neurological exams to identify if there is any condition in the eyes or any neurological alteration that may be causing sensitivity to light.

Possible causes

Photophobia can be caused by several ophthalmological or neurological he alth conditions, the main ones being:

  • Congenital diseases of the retina, such as absence of pigments in the back of the eye, absence of iris or albinism;
  • Eye diseases such as cataracts or glaucoma;
  • Eye inflammation such as uveitis, scleritis or conjunctivitis;
  • Dry eye syndrome;
  • Corneal diseases;
  • Eye injuries, caused by infections, allergies or injuries;
  • Migraine;
  • Neurological alterations such as encephalitis, meningitis or cerebral hemorrhage;
  • Systemic diseases, not directly related to the eyes, such as rheumatological diseases, rabies, botulism or mercury poisoning, for example;
  • Excessive use of contact lenses;
  • After eye surgery, such as cataracts or refractive surgery.

Furthermore, the use of certain medications, such as tetracyclines, phenylephrine, furosemide, or scopolamine, or drugs of abuse, such as amphetamines or cocaine, for example, can also increase sensitivity to light and cause photophobia.

How the treatment is done

The treatment of photophobia must be guided by the doctor according to the cause, and the use of eye drops or artificial tears may be indicated to treat inflammation or infections in the eyes or keep the eyes lubricated, or take medication such as antibiotics or anti -inflammatories to treat systemic infections, or drugs to prevent migraine, for example.

Furthermore, during the treatment some care is important, such as wearing sunglasses with UV protection in bright environments, avoiding the use of fluorescent lamps, giving preference to green lamps, lampshades or tinted lamps, reducing the brightness of the TV, cell phone or computer, or use photochromic lenses, which adapt to the brightness of the environment.

In addition, it is recommended to have annual evaluations with an ophthalmologist, to monitor the he alth of the eyes and detect changes as soon as possible.

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