Photophobia Headache: Get Your Doubts Clear

Harman Kaur
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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Photophobia Headache

Light sensitivity or Photophobia is when your eyes are hurt under bright lights.

It’s a common symptom associated with several conditions. It ranges from minor irritations to serious medical emergencies.

Mild cases cause you to squint when exposed to bright light. On the other hand, extreme forms of this illness produce excruciating pain whenever the eyes are exposed to light.

It can lead you to eye pain whenever you’re in bright sunlight or indoor light. Some people also get headaches.

Between 85% and 90% of people suffer from light sensitivity with Migraines.

In this article, we will discuss the possible effects of Photophobia headache. 

Light sensitivity headache

An article published in 2012 states that people have reported Photophobia as a symptom in most forms of migraine. It was a remarkable criterion for migraine diagnosis.

However, Photophobia is not just happening to people with migraines. It can accompany a variety of other conditions. 

These conditions include:

  • Irritation to eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Blepharospasm, a condition that causes abnormal blinking of the eyelids
  • Cluster headaches
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Tension headaches
  • Central nervous system disorders
Good to know:
Temporary conditions, such as Conjunctivitis, Meningitis, and corneal abrasion, or recurrent condition, like Glaucoma, can cause Photophobia.

Those with Photophobia may become distressed when exposed to intense or sudden illumination. 

Migraine sufferers may also find that certain lighting situations bring on a more severe attack.

What causes Photophobia (light sensitivity) headache?

How a person responds to light can vary. 

Researchers in 2017 found that sensitivity symptoms include avoiding situations where the person can experience pain or discomfort in their eyes.

Certain types of light can trigger the condition of Photophobia. 

Photophobia HeadacheSource: gilaxia_from_Getty_Images_Signature
Photophobia Headache


Photophobia is a symptom of underlying conditions that includes the eyes, the neurological system, and mental health.

These include:

Eye conditions

A common condition that can lead to Photophobia is dry eyes. This occurs when an individual’s tear production is insufficient for optimal lubrication.

Other eye conditions leading to Photophobia include:

  • Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. It is a tissue that covers the white parts of the eye.
  • Corneal disease disorders affect the cornea, a tissue surrounding the iris, and pupil.
  • Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve.
  • Uveitis is an inflammation occurring inside the eye.

Neurological condition

Migraine headaches are known to be a common neurological disorder leading to Photophobia. 

80-90% of people suffer from this condition. 

Medicines like Rizact 10 mg is helpful in getting relief from migraine. 

You can find this easily on WowRxPharmacy.

According to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF), Photophobia is so widespread among migraine sufferers that it is a diagnostic criterion.

Other neurological conditions that can lead to Photophobia include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: These serious injuries affect how the brain works.
  • Blepharospasm describes involuntary closure, blinking, and squeezing of the eyelids.
  • Meningitis: The protective membrane surrounding the brain becomes inflamed due to this illness. 

Also read, Meningitis Photophobia: Everything to Know About

Psychological condition

People with psychological conditions are more prone to having Photophobia. They may risk light sensitivity if they suffer from this condition.

Multiple psychological conditions may lead to Photophobia. 

They include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic disorders
  • Agoraphobia is fear of being in a crowd or leaving one’s home


When people believe that everyday lighting is too harsh, they may avoid it.

Symptoms of release may include:

  • Blinking frequently
  • Squinting
  • Finding strong sunlight or indoor light bothersome

A person who has Photophobia may prefer:

  • Cloudy days instead of sunny days
  • Going out during dusk rather than daytime
  • Dim lights in rooms over bright
Photophobia can lead to worsening pain or physical discomfort in the eye.


Doctors diagnose Photophobia on findings from the following:

mri scannerSource: helovi_from_Getty_Images_Signature
MRI scanner
  • Eye examination
  • Health history
  • Possibly an MRI
  • Neurological examination if other symptoms indicate it is necessary

Doctors ask detailed questions to understand if an individual has Photophobia instead of asking if they are sensitive to light. 

For example, they may ask: “Do you like being at home on a sunny day in winter?”


Extreme sensitivity to light, or photophobia, can be an aversion to environments with a lot of light or eye pain.

It’s a possible side effect of numerous diseases and disorders that might damage your brain, vision, and mental state. It’s also a possible negative drug interaction side effect.

Light with a high frequency of fluctuations, such as fluorescent or flickering light or a striped pattern, may cause an allergic reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sinus headaches cause light sensitivity?

Yes, sinuses are highly likely when two or more symptoms like vomiting and pain in the eye occur. Sinus can be triggered by various factors, including but not limited to changes in the weather, sleep patterns, diet, hormones, and exposure to intense light, sound, or scent.

How do I get rid of Photophobia headaches?

You should practice medications and take proper rest for migraine. Eye drops that help in reducing inflammation for scleritis are also helpful. If you have dry eyes, you should take eye drops after consulting your doctor.

What is the main cause of Photophobia?

Overusing contact lenses or contacts that don’t fit properly are two common causes of eye problems. Migraine headache is also a notable cause of Photophobia.

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