Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What causes eye sensitivity to light?"


Why is it that my eyes are more sensitive to light than any of my friends? In the summer, I actually feel like I have to wear sunglasses or I'm just incapacitated by the pain. My eyes don't seem more dilated - they're just more sensitive. What can I do about this problem?


Importantly, if you only have pain and discomfort when going out into bright sunlight, then it is unlikely that you have a serious problem with your eyes. Several medical conditions, including scratches on the cornea of the eye, can cause pain and trouble with lights, but these tend to be constant and occur even in lower light settings. If you have trouble just intermittently with bright light, then this is simply photophobia, or light sensitivity.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Ophthalmologists near you

This is not a medical problem per se in most cases, but it is very common in those with lighter eye pigmentation. The only treatment is to protect the eyes from the light with sunglasses. Occasionally certain medications, such as some antibiotics taken for acne, can worsen photophobia, so you may want to talk with your pharmacist to see if any of the medications you are taking are associated with photophobia. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concerns will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor or your eye doctor might be advised.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.