Anyone who experiences light sensitivity (or photophobia) will know it can cause a fair bit of discomfort during your day-to-day life, and even limit the amount of time you can spend outside some days. 
Luckily, there are a number of lens options for your glasses that can help shield your eyes and reduce the discomfort you experience in bright light conditions. Below, we’ll look at some of the different types of glasses for light sensitivity and how you can choose the best pair for your eyes.

What eye conditions cause light sensitivity?

Light sensitivity can lead to a number of symptoms, including squinting, watering, eye pain, and headaches. But what’s the cause? Well, there are a few factors that can make your eyes more light-sensitive, including:

  • Conditions which affect the front surface of the eye such as conjunctivitis, dry eye or corneal problems
  • Medications that affect the eye causing sensitivity
  • Uveitis – inflammation inside the eye, such as iritis
  • Inherited retinal conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa
  • Conditions that occur from birth such as ocular albinism and aniridia

Specific eye conditions like macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and cataracts.1,2

Can you get glasses for light sensitivity?

Yes — luckily, there is so much choice out there when it comes to light sensitivity glasses, from different colour tints to lens treatments. It’s just about finding the right option for your eyes. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the factors you should consider when choosing glasses for your sensitive eyes.

Do regular sunglasses help light sensitivity?

A standard pair of sunglasses might seem like a great option for people with light sensitivity — and for some, they work wonderfully. They’re a simple way to reduce discomfort in bright light conditions by limiting the amount of light that can enter the eye, especially if you opt for a pair with lenses that are category 3 or higher

However, if you have low or reduced vision, you might find that this option doesn’t work as well. That’s because, while a pair of standard sunglasses may be able to relieve your light sensitivity, they also limit the amount of light that enters your eyes, making it more difficult for you to see clearly. What’s more, you may still be affected by light glare. So, it’s a delicate balance between blocking light to reduce sensitivity and allowing enough light for clear vision.

Polarising sunglasses

In this instance, you might want to consider a pair of polarising sunglasses. Polarising (or polarised) lenses can help to filter out horizontal or reflected light and reduce glare from surfaces such as water, concrete, snow, and glass. They can also help give a more natural colour perception and improve contrast.

Reactions lenses

If you regularly move between indoors and outdoors, Reactions could be a good solution for you. These lenses darken outdoors and gradually change to clear indoors, adapting to the different light conditions. They also offer UV protection and do not darken behind the protection of the car window screen, so they can be easily used while driving.

What colour tint is best for light sensitivity?

While colour tinted glasses can be a bold fashion choice — delve into the physics a little and you’ll find that different tints can also be helpful for blocking out certain wavelengths of sunlight. For example, some studies have shown that a warm rose-brown lens tint can help to reduce light sensitivity in some people by blocking certain wavelengths of light that cause light sensitivity and trigger migraines.3 

Opticians can assess the specific types of light conditions you might be more sensitive to, and advise you on a coloured lens tint to help. You may need to experiment in different light conditions (indoors vs outdoors) to find which tint works best for your eyes.

Choose wraparound frames for protection at all angles

After you’ve zeroed in on the best colour tint, it’s time to factor in the style and size of your frames. Opting for a pair with thicker, sturdier sides can help to limit the amount of light that reaches your eyes from the side. This ‘wraparound’ style is a favourite with sports players because it protects the eyes from all directions, so they could work just as well for photophobia for the same reason.

Don’t forget UV protection for sensitive eyes

It’s important to note that dark or tinted lenses don’t guarantee that your eyes will be fully protected from damage — you’ll still need to make sure they have a UV (ultraviolet) filter to block the harmful rays from the sun. Check to make sure your chosen sunglasses glasses have the UV400  or CE (European Conformity) mark, or ask your optician to help you.

How can I ease light sensitivity indoors?

It’s easy enough to wear sunglasses outside, but what if your eyes are also light-sensitive indoors? You might find that you’re impacted most by photophobia under fluorescent lighting, but wearing dark sunglasses indoors isn’t very practical. In these cases, some people prefer to have two different pairs of glasses, one with a dark tint for outdoor use, and a lighter pair with a coloured tint or anti-reflection treatment for indoors which can help reduce the effects of glare.

Make your prescription glasses photophobia-friendly

With a range of lens options available, it’s even easier to make your prescription glasses and sunglasses suitable for light sensitivity. From coloured lens tints that ease bright sunlight, to polarising lenses, we have a number of lens treatments for your glasses — whichever frame style you choose. 

You can browse the full collection of glasses and sunglasses on our website, and select your lens preferences before you checkout. Or, speak to one of our opticians about lenses for sensitive eyes when you’re next in-store.

Need more advice? Visit our buyer’s guide for some helpful tips on choosing glasses, or our #LoveGlasses blog for style inspiration.

References

1. Glaucoma Foundation. (no date). Light sensitivity and glare. [Online]. Available at: https://glaucomafoundation.org/light-sensitivity-and-glare/ [Accessed 12 May 2020].

2. RNIB. (no date). Light sensitivity (photophobia). [Online]. Available at: https://www.rnib.org.uk/eye-health/eye-conditions/light-sensitivity [Accessed 12 May 2020].

3. Blackburn MK, Lamb RD, Digre KB, et al. FL-41 tint improves blink frequency, light sensitivity, and functional limitations in patients with benign essential blepharospasm. Ophthalmology. 2009;116(5):997-1001. [Online]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2701948/ [Accessed 12 May 2020]

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