Light sensitivity is known to be related to discomfort and even migraine attacks. But did you know light sensitivity anxiety is also a problem for many who are hypersensitive to light? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. As Jen writes,
“I have lived my entire life with light sensitivity, otherwise known as photophobia. As a young child I was called a bat because I couldn’t handle light and was much happier in the dark or dusk,” she says. “Besides the intermittent, unpredictable pain I have on a daily basis – my fibro and PA like to mess with my eyes regularly. I have tried using sunglasses, computer glasses, you name it to control my light sensitivity.”
Jen’s light sensitivity was making her anxious. Does this happen to you?
Jen’s solution was Axon Optics Photophobia Glasses:
…they work really well. I was blown away…I wear them every day and they have been a life-changer.”
Bright Lights and Anxiety
Perusing online forums, you’ll find many examples of people who see a link between light sensitivity and feelings of anxiousness as in this exchange from MDjunction.
Q: So I’m wondering does light sensitivity go along with anxiety or am I really feeling derealization? – AliKatt
A: OH yes! I have this on a daily basis. Bright lights make me anxious and give me derealization feelings. I don’t have many lights on in my house most of the time. My husband thinks I’m secretly a vampire or something, lol. Fluorescent lighting especially gives me these weird dream like feelings.
Research conducted by Dr. Bradley J. Katz, neuro-opthalmologist at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, suggests that light sensitivity occurs in cahoots with ADHD, panic-agoraphobia, and depression. Further, anxiety and depression are frequently experienced along with migraine, and many migraine patients are also extremely light sensitive.
Another study published in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology found that, of 111 adults with photophobia, 25% of them felt that their symptoms “greatly affect” their quality of life.
Life With Light Sensitivity Anxiety
Light sensitivity can cause discomfort, nausea, migraine, and generally interrupt your life in a number of ways. Lighting conditions that other people consider normal and healthy are a terrible experience for you.
The real-world effects of light sensitivity might be described by some as dreamlike, a feeling of panic, uneasiness, disconnected, or simply excruciating. In many people, their sensitivity to light actually leads to light sensitivity anxiety; feelings of nervousness or disarray when exposed to bright light or certain types of light.
Light sensitivity anxiety can show itself at times and places where it’s important to be able to focus, such as at work. The common fluorescent lighting present in many offices can affect concentration and cause discomfort. Wearing sunglasses or computer glasses indoors may be of some help, but can also dark-adapt your eyes to actually become more light sensitive over time.
What Can Be Done?
While there is no known cure for light sensitivity or light sensitivity anxiety, there are steps you can take to reduce the symptoms and improve overall eye health. In any case, it’s important to visit an ophthalmologist to discuss your symptoms and whether there is an identifiable cause.
Where eye health is concerned, certain nutrients are known to be beneficial to the eyes, including lutein and zeaxanthin. Preliminary studies on other supplements, such as bilberry, L-lysine, and fish oil suggest they may be beneficial as well. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in dark green vegetables such as spinach and collards, and supplements are available.
Aside from taking proper care of your eyes, symptoms specifically related to light sensitivity can be relieved by specialized tinted lenses, like Avulux® lenses for migraine and light sensitivity in glasses from Axon Optics. These lenses block certain types of blue, amber, and red or UV light that trigger light sensitivity, which can lead to headaches and life disruptions that can make you anxious. As the effects of this sensitivity are decreased, you can better manage how light impacts you.
“I tried computer glasses which did decrease my photophobia a little. It didn’t help me with everyday light, indoors or outdoors. Those glasses are very specialized. I tried sunglasses, but they don’t help at all because they really don’t filter the blue or UV light. I ordered the JURA indoor lenses…they work really well. I was blown away…I wear them everyday and they have been a life changer.”
For more information on light sensitivity, how it may be affecting you and what you can do about it, visit Axon Optics’ Guide to Light Sensitivity.
Digre, K. B., & Brennan, K. (2012). Shedding Light on Photophobia. Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, 32(1), 68–81. https://doi.org/10.1097/wno.0b013e3182474548
Stringham, J. M., Bovier, E. R., Wong, J. C., & Hammond, Jr, B. R. (2010). The Influence of Dietary Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Visual Performance. Journal of Food Science, 75(1), R24–R29. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01447.x