Have you ever wondered why green and lighter colored eyes are more sensitive to light?
Light sensitivity is more common than not in the 21st century with 80% of the population suffering from photophobia according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. You will find that the majority of light sensitive people have light-coloured eyes as well, and depending on which eye colour will depend on the level of light sensitivity.
WHAT CAUSES PHOTOPHOBIA? (LIGHT SENSITIVITY)
Photophobia is caused by the connection between cells in your eyes that detect light and a nerve that goes to your head. Lighter eye colors have less pigmentation, therefore are more likely to be extra sensitive to UV rays. When the light hits the iris, there is more light transmitted into the back of the eye of someone with green eyes in comparison to someone who has dark brown eyes (the rays are blocked). People with common eye colors such as brown eyes may still have an affliction to bright light but it will not be as severe.
People with green eyes suffer the most from light sensitivity with 2% of the population having this rare eye color. This is caused by a genetic where the probability of having green eyes can reach 75% and that is only if both parents have green eyes already. Blue-eyed people would also suffer from photophobia but would have a few less side effects.
The population with the highest percentage of green eyes are found in Northern Europe which are noticeably cooler climates with less daylight hours. This eye color is also a favourite in pop culture, with characters such as Harry Potter, Mary Jane Watson and Rapunzel all showing of their prominent green eyes.
Aside from the eye colour, there are other ways that light sensitivity can be determined due to eye diseases and conditions.
Eye diseases such as:
- Corneal abrasion
- Conjunctivitis or pink eye
- Dry eye
- Eye allergies
- Macular Degeneration
SYMPTOMS OF PHOTOPHOBIA
Symptoms of photophobia include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Aversion to light
- Difficulty reading or looking at text
- Pain or discomfort looking at light
- Squinting one or two eyes
- Forehad pain
- Watery eyes
- Wanting to shut your eyes constantly
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR SENSITIVE EYES
There is no cure for sensitive eyes, however there are ways to manage it in everyday life. If you have light-colored eyes, try these tips below:
- Transition from one area to the next, with delay, as there are different levels of light to adjust to
- Shield your eyes from the sun while outside
- Wear a polarised pair of sunglasses to minimise the glare (and avoid eye sunburn)
- Wrap-around sunglasses may also prevent light from getting in through the sides
- FL-41 rose tinted lenses
FL-41 filters out certain wavelengths of blue and green. These colours are thought to be particularly bothersome to patients with light sensitivity. By blocking theses wavelengths of light, this filter also improves contrast and sharpness which increases visual acuity.
Transition contact lenses are contacts that go from light to dark in less than a minute, helping your eyes to adjust to fluctuating light conditions. This is an option for those who don’t want to wear glasses and has the highest UV protection available in contact lenses.
If you are concerned or have questions regarding light sensitivity, book an appointment with your local optometrist.