Light Sensitivity

15 November 2019
Did you know that 9 in 10 people experience sensitivity to light? Light is essential to our well-being and daily activities, but it can also be a source of visual discomfort. This discomfort can range from mild to severe, and in some cases can have a serious impact on quality of life. Let’s look at what causes light sensitivity and easy ways to alleviate it.

Types of light

First, light can be divided into two main types: natural (sunlight, i.e., outdoor) and artificial (indoor). In both cases, there are four factors that impact our environment and affect us in different ways.



Effects on the eyes

SpectrumThe wavelength of light raysThis includes UV and blue light, which have a negative impact on the eyes.
IntensityThe level of intensity of lightLight intensity can range from a faint glow to a dazzling brightness that can create visual discomfort.
SourceThis factor has to do with the distance the light travels to reach your eyes and its amplitude.The smaller and closer the source of light, the greater the visual discomfort.
DurationIs the light visible for a fraction of a second (flash) or for several minutes?Bright flashes of light create a sudden change in the retina, which must adapt drastically. This can cause visual discomfort.

Levels of sensitivity

Because everyone is different, we all can experience different levels of light sensitivity. Some people have severe sensitivity that can affect their daily lives and cause pain that requires medical solutions. For others, light can cause discomfort and make certain activities unpleasant. Most of the time these people don’t even realize that light sensitivity is the root of their discomfort. Some people experience sensitivity in specific situations, such as while driving, playing sports (e.g., swimming and water sports), or engaging in other activities. Only about 1 in 10 people have no sensitivity to light, but it’s still important to take steps to prevent the problem by using proper eye protection.


Sensitivity can be caused by a multitude of factors:
  • Sunlight
  • Glare from roads and reflective surfaces (mirrors, vehicles, buildings, etc.)
  • Reflections off of water, sand, or snow
  • Artificial light sources (fluorescent lights, electronic devices)
Other causes related to health or certain eye conditions can also lead to what is called photophobia, or intolerance to light.
  • Detached retina
  • Corneal lesions
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Eye infection or inflammation
  • Severe headaches or migraine
  • Albinism
Contrary to popular belief, no scientific studies have established any link between light sensitivity and eye colour. So people with light-coloured eyes (blue, green) are no more sensitive to light than those with darker eyes. Age, gender, and race also have no impact.


There are a number of ways to prevent light sensitivity or treat symptoms. Of course, wearing sunglasses is the best way to protect your eyes from natural light when you’re outside. However, to make it easier to manage, and even avoid, light sensitivity issues, photochromic lenses can be a very good solution. These lenses are designed with Light Intelligent technology that makes them react to changes in ambient light.

Roseline Filion wears the Huppert Millésime frame with Transitions Style Colors lenses in amber.

That means the lenses of your glasses will get darker when exposed to intense light and lighter when ambient light is less intense. The reaction occurs quickly and gradually, so wearers often don’t even notice the change. The latest Gen 8 Transitions™ photochromic lenses now feature even faster reaction times. Photochromic lenses are perfect for avoiding glare caused by drastic changes in light (e.g., when you move from inside to outside) and are also a handy option for those who work in environments with intense light (fluorescents) or near a window. They work just as well indoors as outdoors. Transitions™ is the best-known brand of photochromic lenses, with three different product lines. Your eye care professional can recommend the best lenses for you. In addition, all Transitions™ lenses block damaging UV rays and filter the harmful blue light emitted by electronic devices. Lastly, Transitions™ lenses now come in a variety of colours, so you can make a fashion statement with photochromic lenses tailored to your signature style! Transitions™ Style Color lenses now come in amber, sapphire, amethyst, and emerald.

ACUVUE® OASYS with Transitions™

In the spring of 2019, Transitions™ and ACUVUE® unveiled a brand new contact lens that reacts to light. Now you can enjoy all the benefits of photochromic lenses without the need for glasses. This innovative product was named one of TIME magazine’s Best Inventions of 2018, and is a great choice for anyone who likes sports or prefers contacts over glasses.

Your optometrist and optician can help you choose the right photochromic lenses for you based on your needs and lifestyle. Talk to them about it—you won’t believe how good everything looks (without all the discomfort and glare)!
  • Light sensibility
  • Transitions


To find the best pair of prescription glasses or sunglasses for your needs, book an appointment at your Opto-Réseau clinic. Our eyecare professionals will be more than happy to help you pick the frames and lenses that are perfect for you!