12/21/2009 - Questions and Answers

Sensitive to light

By: Mark Castleden

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I am extremely sensitive to light, and even shut my eyes sometimes when driving, because they hurt so. Motion disturbs me. My ophthalmologist can find nothing wrong. Do you have any suggestions?

Question

I am extremely sensitive to light, and even shut my eyes sometimes when driving, because they hurt so. Motion disturbs me. My ophthalmologist can find nothing wrong. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer

An intolerance to light is called photophobia. Although this can be a feature of certain eye disorders, and indeed things such as migraine and meningitis, we are doubtful whether you would have such conditions because your ophthalmologist would have helped you in reaching such a diagnosis. Sometimes there may be an abrasion of the cornea (the outer membrane of the eye) or ulcer or iridocyclitis (inflammation of the coloured part of the eye, the iris). However, again we would feel that all these conditions will have been excluded. More serious conditions such as those that occur within the skull (for example, inflammation caused by infection or bleeding) are usually associated with many other signs and not just this intolerance to light. We do not know whether you are on any medication, but some tablets are known to affect vision in the way you suggest. More serious conditions would probably be excluded if you had had the condition for some time.

You would need to have these tablets reviewed by your own doctor. Overall, it would appear that most of the main diagnoses have been excluded by your own doctor and ophthalmologist, but that depends on how long you have had your problem. However, the fact that motion disturbs you does suggest you should be seen by a neurologist, especially if you feel dizzy at times.

It is of course a big problem to you if you have to close your eyes when driving, and presumably you have already tried things like dark glasses. You may need to question whether you should continue to drive until your condition has resolved.

Created on: 04/05/2003
Reviewed on: 12/21/2009

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