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Why Are My Eyes So Sensitive to Light? --
Causes and Top 7 Natural Remedies
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January 27, 2014, last updated October 17, 2014
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist





Blinking and squinting when you turn on the kitchen light at night is
normal. Shading your eyes when you step onto the beach from a
dark bar is to be expected.

Everyone is sensitive to light to a certain extent and the sensation
passes within a few minutes. But when your eyes fail to adjust to
bright light or you have a problem seeing in even low levels of light,
your eyes could be over-sensitive. Light sensitivity can cause
considerable discomfort and inconvenience.

Sensitivity to light may cause you to avoid places with too much light,
or force you to keep your eyes covered in any lighted place. What
can you do if your eyes are sensitive to the light? What causes this
phenomenon and can it be prevented?

How Does Light Affect Your Vision?

You need light for your eyes to work. Light is collected by the retina
and messages are passed to the brain in order to create pictures that
allow you to see. Light is essential but sometimes light can make it
more difficult to see.

When a light source is too strong for your eyes you screw them up
or shade them but your vision usually returns as the pupil gets
smaller and the eyes adjust. The Royal National Institute of Blind
People (RNIB) in the UK calls this discomfort glare. Disability glare,
however, occurs when you have an eye disease or some other vision
problem that reduces the performance of your eyes and makes it
impossible to see – even in ordinary light.

When your eyes are abnormally sensitive to light it’s called
"photophobia." You may be sensitive to artificial light or natural light
but the symptoms remain the same – a light source causes
discomfort, forcing you to squint or close your eyes. The sensation
may also be accompanied by a headache or feelings of stress.

What Causes Light Sensitivity?


























Light sensitivity or photophobia is not itself a disease but is most
often the product of another eye condition.

Eye problems that can cause sensitivity to light include acute uveitis
(inflammation inside the eye), a burn to the eye, abrasion or an ulcer
on the cornea, or an eye injury or infection like chalazion, episcleritis,
or glaucoma.

Wearing contact lenses for too long can cause light sensitivity, as can
taking an eye test. One of the most common reasons for light
sensitivity is migraine and a less common cause of the condition is
meningitis, a serious illness. If your sensitivity to light is accompanied
by a stiff neck, vomiting, and fever consult your doctor as soon as
possible.

The best treatment for light sensitivity is to properly address the
underlying health condition – for example, treating glaucoma if this is
the sensitivity culprit. However, there are other measures to take if
your sensitivity is not linked to an eye condition or other illness. Here
we look at recent scientific studies to find natural remedies for light
sensitivity.

1.
Treating Eye Sensitivity – First Steps

If your eyes are naturally sensitive to light then take the obvious
steps to minimize discomfort.

Avoid bright sunlight and harshly lit rooms, pay attention to the
lighting in your home to make light levels the most comfortable for
you, wear a wide-brimmed hat outside and sunglasses with UV
protection.

Don’t avoid light completely – you need to slowly increase the
amount of light your eyes can tolerate so you can function more
comfortably.

Try to get enough sleep in a room that is not completely dark.

2.
Wear Special Lenses to Decrease Sensitivity

Photochromatic lenses darken automatically when you go outdoors
and also block harmful rays, so you’re doing your eyes a favor. You
could also wear polarized sunglasses in bright sunshine.

In cases where any amount of light affects your eyes, use contact
lenses that have been specially colored with filters to block light.

A 2006 study from Brighton and Sussex University Hospital,
Brighton, United Kingdom found tinted brown contact lenses
markedly improved the quality of life of children with photophobia.
And a 2004 study from the Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine, Baltimore found red contact lenses successfully relieved
photophobia in people suffering from cone disorders.

3.
Migraines Cause Photophobia

People who suffer from migraines are significantly more sensitive to
light – even when headache-free, according to a 1997 study from the
European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, St. Lukes Hospital,
Guildford, England.

The herb butterbur is helpful for preventing migraines and reducing
light sensitivity, according to a 2000 study from Municipal Hospital,
München-Harlaching, Germany – in the study, 60 men and women
that suffered regular migraines were randomly assigned to 50mg of
butterbur twice daily, or placebo.

The number of migraine attacks and the total number of days of
migraine pain were both significantly reduced in the butterbur group.

4.
Tension Headaches Can Also Cause Sensitivity to Light

You may also suffer from light sensitivity if you experience tension
headaches, according to the results of a 1998 study from the
University Hospital of Trondheim, Norway. The experience of light
sensitivity was different for people with tension headaches, however
– tension headache patients were more sensitive to light during
headache than outside the attack.

5.
Tryptophan for Light Sensitivity

L-tryptophan is an amino acid. It seems that a depletion of L-
tryptophan increases light sensitivity in people suffering from
migraines, according to a 2006 study from Murdoch University, Perth,
Western Australia.

The researchers investigated whether sensitivity to light was affected
when migraine sufferers consumed an amino acid drink that
contained L-tryptophan or one which omitted L-tryptophan and
produced a short-term reduction in brain serotonin synthesis.

At the conclusion of the study, a reduction in tryptophan resulted in
heightened sensitivity to light.

Foods rich in L-Trytophan include mozzarella cheese (.603 grams for
every 100 gram serving), dry roasted soy beans (.575 grams),
roasted pumpkin seeds, (.569 grams), parmesan cheese (.482
grams), bacon (.464 grams), oat bran (.335 grams), cheddar cheese
(.32 grams ), tofu (.26 grams ) and turkey
(.246 grams).

6.
Treat Uveitis to Lessen Light Sensitivity

Uveitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the uvea, the
middle layer of tissue surrounding the eyeball. Uveitis often results in
blurred vision, pain, and sensitivity to any form of light. Treatment is
essential otherwise the condition can result in loss of vision.

One natural remedy that was shown to work in conjunction with
standard therapy is vitamin C and vitamin E taken together. In a
1999 study from the Eye Hospital Rotterdam, 145 people undergoing
treatment for uveitis were given placebo or combined vitamin
treatment. Those receiving the vitamins had better vision at the end
of the eight-week period.

7.
Remedy Glaucoma to Remove Light Sensitivity

Glaucoma results in damage to the optic nerve and results in
blindness or visual impairment, but sufferers may also experience
intense sensitivity to light. Most often, glaucoma occurs when there is
increased pressure in the eye. Various natural remedies for light
sensitivity due to glaucoma have been put forward, including gingko
extract. A 2003 study from Centro Glaucoma, Clinica Oculistica
Università di Brescia, Italy found that 120mg of gingko extract every
day for eight weeks resulted in significantly improved vision for
people suffering from glaucoma.










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