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Understanding Eye Pain and Sensitivity to Light: Causes and Solutions 

Gina Walters


eye pain and sensitivity to light

Eye pain and sensitivity to light are common eye symptoms that cause discomfort and impact daily life.

Sensitivity to light, also known as photophobia, is when bright light hurts your eyes. 

These symptoms might frequently occur as a result of several eye conditions.

Dry eyes, Migraines, eye injuries, or Pink Eye typically cause eye pain and light sensitivity.

This article will focus on the causes of eye pain, sensitivity to light, and available treatment.

Understanding eye pain and sensitivity to light

Eye pain and light sensitivity are often linked to underlying causes such as Migraines or inflammation. 

When individuals are affected by such conditions, they are more likely to seek protection from bright light.

Such light sensitivity can cause discomfort, irritation, and a sensation of eye pain. 

Both of these symptoms are frequently experienced together because of their common causes.

In some individuals, any underlying medical condition or eye injury can lead to eye pain and light sensitivity. 

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Causes of eye pain and sensitivity to light

Various underlying factors can lead to eye pain and sensitivity to light. 

Prolonged screen time and exposure to irritants are the primary causes of eye pain. 

Eye injury, Pink Eyes, Migraines, and Dry Eyes can also lead to Eye pain and light sensitivity. 

Let’s discuss these causes in detail for better understanding: 

Eye Injury

One of the most prevalent reasons for light sensitivity and eye pain is eye injury.

An eye injury can occur due to a blunt force or by using contact lenses for an extended period.

Eye injury is also known as scratched cornea; cornea is the outer layering of the eye. 

A scratched cornea can occur due to an eye injury, causing photophobia and eye pain.

Pink Eyes

Eye redness (viral pink eye symptom)Source: dtimiraos_from_Getty_Images
Pink eyes

Studies state that Pink Eyes, also known as Conjunctivitis, can cause eye pain and sensitivity to light. 

Inflammation due to Pink Eyes can cause discomfort, burning sensations, and increased sensitivity to light. 

While Viral or Bacterial Pink Eye is common, allergies and irritants can also cause it.

Uveitis and Keratitis are other eye conditions characterized by symptoms such as eye pain and sensitivity to light.

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for symptom relief and preventing the infection from spreading. 

Continuous rubbing of infected eyes can worsen the condition and potentially spread the infection. Exercise caution and seek medical advice for effective management.

Dry eyes

Dry Eye is a condition in which the tear ducts do not generate enough tears or the tears drain excessively.

It frequently causes eye dryness, leading to light sensitivity or photophobia.

Light sensitivity frequently affects the eyes and can cause severe eye pain in affected individuals.


Migraine is a type of headache which causes discomfort and disturbs the normal life of affected individuals. 

Research suggests that some individuals can become sensitive to bright light due to Migraine. 

This light sensitivity can further lead to nausea, vomiting, and eye pain in some individuals.

It is essential to consult a doctor for advice if you experience any symptoms of Migraines. 

Want to know more about the connection between eye pain and Migraine? Read Migraine Eye Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options.

Self-diagnosis and self-treatment for eye pain might be dangerous. Consult an eye care specialist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment that is tailored to the individual infection.

Available treatment for eye pain and light sensitivity

eye-dropSource: Porntep-Kawjun
Woman using eye drop

The underlying cause determines the treatment for eye pain and light sensitivity.

Your doctor may prescribe lubricating eye drops if you’re experiencing eye pain due to eye injury. 

Anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended for Pink Eyes, Uveitis, and Keratitis.

Migraine-related symptoms can be treated with pain medications and lifestyle changes. 

Reducing screen time and wearing sunglasses can also help to alleviate symptoms. 

Artificial tear drops are helpful to treat Dry Eyes, which causes eye pain and sensitivity to light. 

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Summing up

Eye pain and sensitivity to light is a common discomfort that can be caused due to various causes.

Infections like Pink Eyes, Uveitis, and Keratitis can cause eye pain and light sensitivity. 

Eye injuries such as Corneal Abrasions can lead to light sensitivity and eye pain in some individuals. 

Migraines and Dry Eyes are also associated with eye pain and photophobia.

Lubricating eye drops and anti-inflammatory medicines are usually prescribed for treating eye pain and photophobia. 

It is essential to seek medical help before taking any medications to avoid potential risks and side effects. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can staring at screens cause eye pain and light sensitivity?

Prolonged screen time can contribute to eye strain, leading to discomfort and sensitivity to light.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.

Are there any home remedies available for eye pain and photophobia?

A person’s light sensitivity and eye pain can be lessened using home remedies.
Some individuals may experience brief relief from these symptoms by resting in a dark area.
Applying cold compresses and drinking plenty of water are also beneficial for eye pain and photophobia.

When should I seek immediate medical attention for eye pain and light sensitivity?

For severe eye pain and light sensitivity, seek immediate medical attention.
This is particularly crucial if accompanied by sudden vision changes or other concerning symptoms.
Timely evaluation is crucial for accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.

How do lifestyle changes help manage sensitivity to light?

Several lifestyle choices can contribute to improved management of light sensitivity.
Employing sunglasses outdoors, reducing screen time, and adjusting digital device brightness settings can effectively mitigate photophobia symptoms.

Is prolonged exposure to sunlight harmful to eye health?

Prolonged exposure to sunlight without protection can contribute to eye strain and discomfort. Wear sunglasses with UV protection and a wide-brimmed hat when spending time outdoors.

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