Adapting to high eye sensitivity to light: tips from a fellow Glarmin

Yesterday I run into the article titled: Do You Have Problems with Light and Glare Sensitivity? Meet Leann Gibson, Who Has Been There Too! Since one of Glarminy’s goals is to be a community where people with high eye sensitivity to light can help each other I decided to summarizing Leann’s valuable experiences in learning to live with extreme light sensitivity.

Leann’s extreme eye sensitivity to light

Leann was diagnosed with autoimmune retinopathy, a rare eye disorder which causes progressive loss of vision. Visual symptoms associated with autoimmune retinopathy include extreme eye sensitivity to light, among many others (see full article here).

Techniques of coping with high eye sensitivity to light – outdoors

Here are the main points of how a person with high eye sensitivity to light might cope outdoors:

  • prescription tinted sunglasses; there is no one fit all solution, find an eye doctor’s office (either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist) or a local blindness/low vision agency that will let you try on different lenses of varying tints, contrast, color balance and transmission [I would also add polarizing efficiency], see which ones work best for you, don’t forget to try them outside in natural light!
  • shielding the light from above; wear a hat with a deep wide brim [sombrero], an umbrella [parasol] also comes handy; they help protect your eyes from the Sun, bright sky, but also bright lights in stores
  • use of “fitover” sunglasses; Leann uses them over her regular, prescription sunglasses, thus further reducing the amount of light that reaches her sensitive eyes
Eye sensitivity to light - Leann's outdoor essentials

Leann’s travel essentials: a folding umbrella, wide-brimmed hat, an assortment of extra sunglasses, and a cell phone (photo from http://www.visionaware.org)

Techniques of coping with high eye sensitivity to light – indoors

Leann suggests that coping with eye sensitivity to light indoors is a balancing act between learning how to block the natural light coming in the windows and figuring out which lighting fixtures and bulbs work best.

  • lighting fixtures; Leann found that fixtures with cream-colored shades that provide a softer light concentration work best
  • light bulbs; soft white low-wattage bulbs are her preferred choice; for kitchen and bathroom she uses a 60-watt (or equivalent) frosted spotlight bulb which shines the light downward without being too harsh
  • even out the bright and dark areas; to avoid having either too much light or not enough light, Leann has purchased smaller lamps and positioned them in the darker areas of her house
  • block natural light coming through the windows;
  • Leann uses room-darkening blinds and drapes; for front door windows she’s applied stick-on window tint that lets in some light but is easier on the eyes

What has been your experience coping with high eye sensitivity to light? Feel free to share your advice for your fellow Glarmins?

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2 Comments

  1. Wear a baseball cap with a dark brim on the underside. Helps cut down glare.

    For extreme sensitivity I found that two pair of sunglasses, one on top of the other, work well especially if at least one pair are polarized.

    At one point following surgery, I found that a pair of sunglasses and a pair of welder’s glasses (available at a hardware store) allowed me to drive my car.

    One of my better solutions has been to become a night owl. I find I can walk around the house at 3:00 Am with no lights on and can nearly read by the outdoor street lights. I also have much better control of what lights are used for different purposes.

    Depending upon where you live and the inherent dangers in your community, I find it enjoyable to go for a walk at night. I live in a gated community with live guards on the gates and TV monitors at various locations. The guards know me and why I am out.

    Over time I have eared that a 15 minute nap at various times during the day will help reduce the light sensitivity during the day.

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