Intolerance to Light


Current estimates suggest that around half of traumatic brain injury patients struggle with light sensitivity (photophobia).

Because it is so common, most people use sunglasses to minimise glare and fail to do anything more. However, it is crucial to see a neurologist and to follow this up by seeing an eye doctor as other underlying issues may need addressing. Many ophthalmologists specialise in treating TBI patients.

“Light sensitivity is an important symptom of eye disease and one cannot just assume light sensitivity is a symptom of TBI- a treating doctor needs to eliminate intrinsic eye disease as a cause, and only an eye doctor can make this assessment. Missing intrinsic eye disease can be disastrous, as many corneal and inflammatory diseases of the eye can cause photophobia (or light sensitivity) and need to be treated with eye drops, not just sunglasses. Left untreated, such disease can lead to permanent loss of vision.” Steve Rauchman MD

He further states, “Also, many automobile accident injury victims experience facial trauma as a result of airbag deployment. Airbags may prevent fatal head injuries but they are a major cause of corneal (front surface of the eye) damage. Airbags can strike the eyeball directly or they release a chemical powder which can burn the surface of the eye. Only a well-trained eye doctor can diagnose and treat these problems. Many TBI patients also complain of eye redness, irritation, in addition to light sensitivity. Eye physicians should take the time to ask a detailed set of questions related to these other visual symptoms.”

Do your research. Get checked out by a professional.


Steve Rauchman MD – Light sensitivity and TBI

IBIA – Photosensitivity following TBI

ABI Resources – Sensitivity to light/photophobia