Photophobia is the deep fear or dread of light. It is derived from a duo of Greek words; phos-meaning light and Phobos- fear (Phobos is the Greek god of fear).
The piercing introduction of light can cause a bit of discomfort, headaches, or experience pain in their eye. In the case of a photophobic, this is quite different as they exhibit an abnormal and/or irrational sensitivity to light and sometimes cannot stand light at all.
Photoaugiaphobia, a deviation of photophobia, is used to describe the condition where phobics are highly sensitive to bright and glaring light. Most of this individuals cannot withstand being photographed and often relate the bright light as being relayed from bad spirits and aliens. These come a long way in affecting daily functions and in severe cases, the career of the phobics.
CAUSES OF PHOTOPHOBIA:
Many causes are attached to photophobia and are related to anxiety disorders and poor brain-eye issues. They are stated thus;
* Medical and congenital eye problems, e.g. A tumour may be present or afflictions nervous system, causing intense pain in the eye with introduction to bright light and hence deep dread to light.
* The amygdala, the portion of the brain responsible for triggering/memory of fears and phobias, may cause photophobia as it reawakens thoughts and feelings of traumatic experiences which was caused by bright light. A child may have stared at the sun for too long or at a bright source of light and got a migraine for days. This is the brain’s manipulation to prevent further trauma or repitition of such events to the individual.
* Other eyes related disorders such as cataracts, corneal abrasions, traumatic brain injuries, ulcers may cause photophobia in individuals. Also, albinism, a condition in which an individual develops translucent irises and this allows more passage of light than normal.
* Autistic persons, sufferers of encephalitis, and meningitis may also suffer from photophobia.
* Ridicule as a result of “photic sneeze reflex“, a novel condition whereby an individual reflexively sneezes on exposure to direct bright light may cause a persistent and permanent fear of light, so as to avoid being teased.
SYMPTOMS OF FEAR OF LIGHT:
The symptoms associated with photophobia may be harsh or violent when confronted with the stimulus (bright and glaring light). These may disrupt normal life activities and work functioning leading to distress, depression and dread.
Unlike avoiding bugs, snakes or bats, the avoidance of light altogether cannot be achieved totally because of natural daylight. A severely affected phobic may abnormally avoid light and become socially passive, and might be unstable in his work functioning and not hold steady relationship, or even try to avoid coming out in daytime.
Emotional and physical symptoms associated with photophobia include;
* Constantly wearing dark tinted sunglasses and avoiding light totally.
* Averting eyes from light, preference to sitting in the dark, not participating in social activities or being socially awkward in the day time.
* Thanatophobia, thoughts and feelings of dying.
* Trembling, naseous feelings, crying, shaking, panic attacks, severe heart palpitation at the thought of being exposed to light.
TREATMENT OF PHOTOPHOBIA:
Medical drugs, psychotherapy are helpful combinations that can be used to combat the fear of light.
The controlled and proper use of anti anxiety pills to reduce panic and anxiety attacks and aid photophobes cope with exposure to bright light.
Scientific study shows that photophobes that ingest Zeaxanthin and Lutein have recorded a drastic reduction in their sensitivity to light. But it is recommended to recognise the true origin of the fear of light to determine the perfect treatment option to use.
In conclusion, computer aided hypnotherapy, gradual desensitization exposure approach therapy and group therapy are useful tools in combatting photophobia, provided that the photophobia is open to coping with the pain of light exposure to end his/her light phobia permanently.