Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Eye Health Center

Font Size

Eye Problems and Sensitivity to Light

It is normal for the eyes to be sensitive to the sudden brightness of light, such as when you turn on a light during the night or go out into the sun after being indoors. This usually goes away within a few minutes.

Photophobia is an abnormal sensitivity to artificial or natural light. Mild sensitivity may mean that wearing sunglasses in certain lighting helps your eyes feel better. More severe sensitivity may mean that you avoid light as much as possible and keep your eyes covered in any lighted environment.

Common causes of photophobia include inflammation of the iris, the cornea, or the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis, or pinkeye).

New sensitivity to light that is painful and causes you to close your eyes or to need sunglasses even when you are indoors may be a sign of a serious condition. It may mean a problem or inflammation in the muscle that controls the movement of the pupil (iritis). This usually requires evaluation by your doctor.

Sensitivity to light with other signs of illness (fever, stiff neck, and vomiting) may indicate a more serious infection in the nervous system (meningitis).

If you have eye problems and sensitivity to light, see your doctor for an evaluation.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last RevisedNovember 2, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 02, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

businesswoman wearing fun eyeglasses
Slideshow
Pink Eye Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Woman with itchy watery eyes
Slideshow
grilled salmon and spinach
Video
 

Understanding Stye
Article
human eye
Article
 
eye
Video
eye exam timing
Video
 

vision test
Tool
is vision correction surgery for you
Article
 
high tech contacts
Article
eye drop
Article
 

Special Sections