Visual sensitivity is characteristic of an abnormal intolerance to the visual perception of light by the presence of an actual physical photosensitivity of the eyes. For sufferers of visual hypersensitivity, light outdoors and even indoors can be mildly discomforting to blinding. Most effects are assumed the result of chronic pain and or fatigue, and are exacerbated by visual sensitivity or vice versa.
Signs of Visual Sensitivity in Adults
- Headaches when outdoors without dark sunglasses.
- Headaches when exposed to florescent lighting for an extended period of time.
- Headaches when staring at a computer or TV for more than an hour.
- White or brightly colored walls appear “illuminated” rather than a flat form.
- Visual hallucinations that obscures physical vision.
- Distortions in depth perception, or distortions of shape and size of objects.
- Seeming movement or vibration of objects that are physically still.
Signs of Visual Sensitivity in Children
- When exposed to bright lights will cover eyes, squint, cry or fuss, or complain of headache.
- Is easily distracted by visual stimuli such as movement, decorations, toys, windows, doorways, mirrors, etc.
- Shows or complains of a difficulty keeping eyes focused on task/activity for an extended duration.
- Appears distracted or over stimulated by brightly colored rooms.
- Avoids playing outdoors/claims it is to bright outside.
- Rubs eyes, has watery eyes, or complains of headaches after reading, using the computer, video game console (e.g. DSI), or watching television.
- Avoids eye contact.
- Enjoys playing in the dark or retreating to dark places to “relax,” including bedroom, bathrooms, closets, and other small dark areas.
Ways to Alleviate or Reduce Symptoms
- Wear dark sunglasses or clip-on sunglasses (brown or black) when outdoors.
- Avoid wearing hair in a high ponytail, using a headband, hats, or barrettes, as these can lead to the exacerbation of headaches and widespread pain. Also, avoid wearing necklaces and heavy earrings.
- Wear sunglasses, or clip-on sunglasses when in places with florescent lights.
- Purchase lighter glasses (frames and lenses) and wear as loose as possible.
- Purchase glasses that are scratch resistant and anti-reflective (no glare) to reduce squinting, which can lead to headaches.
- Dim your computer, video game, or TV screen, and or reduce the amount of lighting in your environment (e.g. office) with window treatments.
- Take a break from the screen at least once an hour for 15 minutes.
- If typing in Microsoft Word, change the background color to an off-white or darker color. Increase text size in applications such as MS Word and Internet Explorer, as this can lead to squinting.
- Get your eyeglasses prescription check once every two years.
- Avoid looking at white or bright colored objects by removing them from your environment (e.g. office). Avoid white or brightly colored walls, carpeting, etc.
- Use tinted glasses or light sunglasses to reduce visual noise phenomena.
- Avoid contacts, and they can dry eyes out, leading to irritation and eye pain/sensitivity.
- If you have problems with dry eye, keep eyes moist with non-irritating eye drops throughout the day.
- Some visual issues may be the result of lacking quality sleep. Try prescription or OTC sleep aides, herbal supplements and oils, meditating before sleeping (mindful meditation “let go”), or try a new mattress or pillow (contour pillows are often best) and memory foam is typically the best way to go.
- Reduce the amount of light you are exposed to when you wake up with window treatments.