Light sensitivity or photophobia is known to cause discomfort and even migraine attacks. But did you know light sensitivity anxiety is also a problem for many who suffer from photophobia? If you suffer from anxiety related to light sensitivity, 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 likes 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 causing her undue anxiety. Does this happen to you?
“I have tried using sunglasses, computer glasses, you name it to control my light sensitivity.” ~jen@craftymomof3
Bright Lights and Anxiety
Perusing online forums, you’ll find many examples of people who see a link between light sensitivity and anxiety, 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, neurologist at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, suggests that photophobia occurs in cohorts with ADHD, panic-agoraphobia, and depression. Further, anxiety and depression are frequently experienced along with migraine, and many migraine patients also have photophobia.
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
Otherwise known as photophobia, light sensitivity can cause pain, nausea, migraine, and generally interrupt your life in a number of ways. Light conditions that other people consider normal and healthy are terribly painful and disruptive for you.
The real-world effects of photophobia might be described by some as dreamlike, a feeling of panic, uneasiness, disconnected, or simply painful. 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 pain. Wearing sunglasses or computer glasses indoors may provide some relief, 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 of photophobia 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, bilberry, L-lysine, fish oil, and zeaxanthin. 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 photophobia can be relieved by specialized tinted glasses, like those available from Axon Optics. These glasses block certain types of blue or UV light that trigger photophobia, which can lead to headaches and life disruptions that can make you anxious. As the effects of photophobia are decreased, you can continue your life with fewer interruptions and more confidence.
Jen@craftymomof3 says, “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.
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