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Could Light Sensitivity (Photophobia) Be The Reason Your Child Is Having A Hard Time Learning?

Just like many of us are sensitive toward different sounds, there are those that are sensitive toward light to the point where it heavily impacts their daily lifestyle. 

This sensitivity to light is called Photophobia.

What is Photophobia?Photophobia is an experience of discomfort or pain to the eyes due to light exposure or by the presence of physical sensitivity to the eyes. 

common artificial lighting symptoms

Signs

It's difficult for a child to express to you that they have eye-related problems. 

A few different signs you can look out for to tell if your child may be struggling with Photophobia are:

  • Constantly squinting or closing their eyes.
  • Trouble reading and studying. 
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Lethargy. 
  • Persistent headaches.
  • Dizziness or nausea.
  • Complaints of blurred vision.
  • Symptoms typically worsen under bright/harsh light. 

Causes

  • Children can be victims of headache disorders and migraines just as much as adults, especially given that experts believe there is a genetic link to it. Studies show that more than half of children with this disorder experience strong light sensitivity. 
  • Concussions are another cause of Photophobia and impact as many as 3 million children annually.
  • Eye disorders such as Childhood Glaucoma can cause light sensitivity, unusually large pupils and excessive tearing. 
  • There is a form of light-sensitive epilepsy that is most common in children and adolescents and teenagers called  Photosensitivity EpilepsyFor about 3% of people with epilepsy, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures. 
  • Children with autism spectrum disorder ^2 and ADHD also experience increased stress and sensitivity, particularly from fluorescent lighting due to it's unseen flickering and harmful blue light emittance. 
  • People with light-colored eyes are more likely to have sensitivity, especially to bright light, than those with darker pigmented eyes.  

How It Affects Learning

Vision and eye health have always been closely related. This is significant because 80 percent of what a child learns in school is information that is presented visually.

Because of this, a child who experiences light sensitivity, migraines, eye pain, and blurred vision and therefore has trouble reading, focusing, and retaining information is at risk of falling behind in their studies and becoming unmotivated to catch up.

Treatment

If you think learning related-vision disabilities such as Photophobia are holding your child back, here are a few things you can do.

Although knowing the root cause of this disorder can prove to be challenging, most cases are treatable. To alleviate a child's symptoms and to provide relief, have your child always wear protective eyewear outdoors.

If you notice your child squinting, experiencing pain, and losing interest in outdoor activities they once enjoyed, take them to a shady area until symptoms subside. Just be sure to avoid excessive time in the dark or prolonged periods indoors with sunglasses, as they may adapt to these situations and then experience heightened symptoms once returning to a bright area. 

Lastly, it's extremely important for those who experience Photophobia to be in a learning environment without problematic lighting. Artificial lights used in most homes such as bulbs and other forms of portable lighting are highly damaging, which necessitates certain protective measures and better lighting alternatives. Medical-grade lamps from Dr. Lite are carefully designed to minimize blue light exposure and glare to keep your child's eyes happy and healthy, promoting better learning and a more positive outlook on their studies! 

References:

1Francis MV. Brief migraine episodes in children and adolescents-a modification to International Headache Society pediatric migraine (without aura) diagnostic criteria. Springerplus. 2013;2(1):77. doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-77

2Howe FEJ, Stagg SD. How Sensory Experiences Affect Adolescents with an Autistic Spectrum Condition within the Classroom. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2016;46:1656-1668. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2693-1.

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