Photophobia means sensitivity to light. It can be due to a temporary problem such as a corneal abrasion or uveitis. It is frequently due to refractive surgery, corneal transplant, or lack of a full iris (the color part of the eye). Photophobia after LASIK, PRK, RK, can be debilitating and can prevent someone from functioning, reading, or driving, especially driving at night. The good news is that there are special lenses that address photophobia.
Photophobia can occur due to more long-term problems such as Keratoconus, which is a bulging of the cornea. At times there is scarring of the cornea. Pellucid Marginal Degeneration and Fuch’s Dystrophy are other corneal problems that can produce sensitivity to light. Other reasons include corneal scarring due to a birth defect or due to a mechanical or chemical trauma.
Aniridia is a condition when someone is born without an iris or with an incomplete iris. The iris is the colored part of the eye behind the cornea. It regulates how much light comes into the eye in the same was you might open a door fully or partially.
Albinism is a condition where there is little pigmentation (color) in the skin. Commonly individuals with albinism have blue irises and there is usually little pigment in the retina that captures light. This is the reason for the sensitivity to light.
A corneal graft after a corneal transplant can become cloudy and cause sensitivity to light. A corneal ulcer can also produce a corneal scar which results in sensitivity to light.
Polarized eyeglass lenses may give relief and at times, if the problem is severe, a custom prosthetic contact lens specially colored to look like your own eyes may be needed. Prosthetic contact lenses can reduce the amount of light that enters the eye to make your eyes more comfortable.