Photophobia, or light sensitivity, is when someone is bothered by light or very sensitive to light. Sunlight, fluorescent light and even regular light bulbs can cause discomfort. You may feel that you need to squint or close your eyes. Headaches also may accompany light sensitivity.
Light-sensitive people sometimes are bothered only by bright light. In extreme cases, however, any light can be irritating. When this occurs suddenly, it may be a signal of a more serious problem, uveitis.
People with a lighter eye color may be more light sensitive in bright sunlight, and often burn rather than tan. Some medications may cause light sensitivity as a side effect, including belladonna, furosemide, quinine, tetracycline and doxycycline.
Photophobia often accompanies albinism (lack of eye pigment), total color deficiency (seeing only in shades of gray), conjunctivitis, keratitis and iritis.
The best treatment for light sensitivity is to address the underlying cause. Once the triggering factor is treated, photophobia disappears in many cases. If you are taking a medication that causes light sensitivity, talk to your prescribing physician about discontinuing or replacing the drug.
Photochromic lenses are another solution for mild sun sensitivity. These lenses darken automatically outdoors and block 100 percent of the sun's UV rays. For bright sunlight, consider polarized sunglasses. These sun lenses provide extra protection against glare-causing reflections of light from water, sand, snow, concrete roadways and other reflective surfaces.
In an extreme case, you may consider wearing prosthetic contact lenses that are specially colored to look like your own eyes. Prosthetic contact lenses can reduce the amount of light that enters the eye and make your eyes more comfortable.