Light sensitivity is something that most people experience at one point or another, but there’s a difference between it happening once versus on a regular basis. If you’re experiencing sensitivity to light after a few minutes of being outdoors or leaving a darkened room, this may indicate a larger problem.
Photophobia is the formal term for light sensitivity, and it means that you are sensitive to light – not afraid of it. This condition can take a toll on your life, causing headaches, irritability and dry eyes. Below are three different ways to test your sensitivity to light. Talk to your retina specialist about which one is right for you.
Irlen Self Test
The Irlen Self Test is an online test that asks various questions about sunlight, glare, bright lights and fluorescent lights. It’s an easy test that you can take at home. Discuss your results with your doctor and whether or not the Irlen method can help with your light sensitivity. Even if this method isn’t right for you, the test will start the conversation with your ophthalmologist.
It’s not uncommon for light sensitivity to be caused by dry eye syndrome. Typically, ophthalmologists use the Schirmer’s test to diagnose this condition. With this procedure, strips of paper are placed under your eye to detect how much moisture is being produced. If you do have dry eye syndrome, there are treatments available that can help with the dryness and light sensitivity.
VLSQ-8 and OPA
Because light sensitivity can be difficult to diagnose, there are two new diagnostic tools that have been introduced: the ocular photosensitivity analyzer (OPA) and the visual light sensitivity questionnaire-8 (VLSQ-8). The OPA is an automated instrument that determines your light sensitivity threshold. The VLSQ-8 is an eight question survey that helps your doctor identify the presence and severity of your symptoms.
Other Factors and Tests to Consider
It’s important to know that photosensitivity is often a symptom of an underlying problem such as a neurological condition, dry eye syndrome or chronic migraines. Don’t be surprised if your ophthalmologist also recommends other tests like an MRI. This will help them look for red flags. While light sensitivity is difficult to live with, we are learning more about this condition and how to help people who experience it regularly.
If you are having trouble with light sensitivity, schedule an appointment with Empire Retina Consultants today.