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Why Am I So Light-Sensitive?


Why Am I So Light-Sensitive?

Growing up we believe that people with light-coloured eyes are more sensitive to light, but how true is this? The scientific term for light sensitivity is photophobia, which is discomfort caused by difficulty focusing in bright lights. It can be a mild temporary nuisance (such as when going outdoors in bright sunlight) or a debilitating condition leading to headache and eyestrain (such as in some suffering from concussion). Sunglasses provide relief for most, but sometimes even they are not enough.

During an eye exam, the doctor checks to see how your eyes reacts to light. Lighter-coloured eyes have less melanin pigment, meaning they are unable to filter out sunlight as well as darker eyes. Thus, those with blue or light hazel eyes do tend to be more light-sensitive. Regardless, there are still many people with dark eyes that are light-sensitive.

The problem of photophobia escalates once you find it necessary to wear glasses indoors. Although uncommon in the general population, we see this often in our concussion patients. Concussion symptoms include not only sensitivity to light, but also to sound, motion, and other distractions. In Vision Therapy, we work with different coloured filters, as well as relaxation techniques, to reduce photophobia.

Fun Fact: Did you know that eye colour is typically not determined until around age 3? Even then, eye colour can change throughout adulthood with certain metabolic conditions.


Written by: Sandra Mazur & Dr. Natalia Fong

Image Credit: Mathew Janzen


What Do My Eyebrows Have to Do With My Vision?

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What Do My Eyebrows Have to Do With My Vision?

Eyebrows serve a lot of functions in our culture today from beauty to nonverbal communication. You can tell a lot about how a person is feeling based on their eyebrows. Different facial expressions show emotions, feelings and meanings while our eyebrows exaggerate that expression. Take cartoons for example, furrowed eyebrows express anger and high arched eyebrow express surprise. But what else do our eyebrows do for us?

We as humans rely on our sight more than any other sense. Eyebrows help keep sweat, rain and other moisture out of our eyes. With no eyebrows, water can get in and seriously blur our vision. In addition, our eyebrows may also deflect debris and protect our eyes from the sun. As a species, we slowly evolved to lose most of our body hair yet our eyebrows remained. Some scientists believe that if we didn’t have eyebrows, something else would have evolved to help this situation; perhaps incredibly thick eyelashes or an overly thick skull that forms a ledge above our eyes.

Eye protection is vital! Before you decide to pluck some extra hairs to form the perfect thin eyebrow shape or even consider eyebrow tattoos (shaving off your eyebrows and tattooing the arch – ouch!), remember the importance of that hair above your eyes and how it’s helping you see clearly and comfortably  each and every day.


Written by: Stephanie Teixeira

Photo Credit: Rune Enstad

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Test your eye health knowledge with these commonly asked questions!

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Test your eye health knowledge with these commonly asked questions!

Does sitting too close to the TV damage your vision?

Sitting closer than necessary may give you a headache, but it will not damage your vision. Parents of children and teens who habitually sit close to the TV should consider having their vision measured to screen for uncorrected refractive errors.

Does reading in the dark weaken your eyesight?

You may experience eye strain from reading in dim light, but it will not weaken your eyesight or harm the eyes. Reading in the dark is counterproductive because the parts of the eye that generate the clearest, most precise visual images require light in order to function.

Will using glasses or contacts weaken my eyesight? Will my eyes will eventually become dependent on them?

Vision correction (whether with glasses or contact lenses) focuses light rays entering the eye in order to create a crisp visual image on the retina. It is true that nearsighted children become more nearsighted up until age 30 or so, but don’t blame the eyewear! The focusing power of the eyes changes throughout life. That is one reason why routine eye exams are so helpful. Use of eyeglasses or contact lenses will not weaken eyesight or cause any focusing problem to worsen.

Can children with crossed eyes be treated?

The medical term for cross-eyed is strabismus (STRUH-BIZ-MUSS). There are several different causes for misalignment of the eyes, and a thorough eye exam is necessary to accurately diagnose the problem and its cause. Depending on the cause of the crookedness, some children with strabismus can be managed with prescription eyeglasses, whereas other kinds of strabismus require surgery. Prompt treatment is essential to protect the deviated eye from losing vision – a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye).

Is there anything you can do to prevent vision loss?

Most cases of vision loss can be treated. Depending on the specific disorder, vision loss can be halted, reversed, or even completely restored. See your doctor if you experience decreased vision, abrupt flashes of light, or the presence of a “curtain” that obscures your eyesight. Sudden, total loss of vision is a medical emergency – get immediate help.

Will using a nightlight in your child’s room contribute to nearsightedness?

Some researchers have suggested that use of nightlights may contribute to nearsightedness (myopia); however, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. Keeping a nightlight on in your baby’s room may actually help stimulate the infant’s visual development and eye coordination skills when they are awake.


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