Glare and Bright Lights

Glare and Bright Lights

Posted under Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

Glare, bright lights and light sensitivity is a common symptom for those with retinal diseases.  Terri Cyr, OD and author of Insight Into Low Vision writes,“Because of the way light sensitive neurons in our visual system are wired, those with retinal diseases may find the sunshine or bright lights exceedingly bright and have difficulty adapting and in turn experience light sensitivity (photophobia).”  For some the harsh lights can actually be painful to the eyes.  In addition to light sensitivity, bright lights or glare can cause a temporary “blindness” where one’s central and peripheral vision is blocked or washed out by the brightness.

Sources of Glare

Glare can come from many sources and it can come from direct light or reflected light. Outside, sunlight of course creates glare but so can the reflection from water, fresh snow or white sand.  Even the reflective shiny surface of a car can cause diminished vision due to glare or light sensitivity.  Lights from households lamps, overhead fluorescent lighting or car headlights can contribute to photosensitivity.  Sunshine coming in through windows can cause visual problems for some as can the reflection of other smooth or shiny surfaces in the house.  Some people react adversely to certain light bulbs, like halogen bulbs, which can provide too much light.  Other common sources of glare that disable one’s vision are electronic screens – televisions, computers, tablets and electronic book readers can reflect light making them difficult to use or enjoy.

Controlling Glare and Light Sensitivity

While photosensitivity may never go away, there are many different strategies one can use to manage it and to minimize its interference with your vision.

  1. Wear Sunglasses

Wear wraparound sunglasses or sunglasses with top and side panels that protect your eyes and block light from entering from above or from the side.   You can maximize your usable vision in bright lighting with polarized lenses to reduce glare and by finding the best tint for your eyes as recommended by your low vision optometrist.  A grey tint can decrease light transmission while a yellow, amber or orange lense can diminish glare sensitivity.  Some people wear their sunglasses not only outside but also inside in bright light environments. You can get tinted sunglasses that fit over your prescription glasses.

  1. Anti-Reflective Coating

An anti-reflective coating can be added to your prescription lenses and decreases reflected light and glare.   Again, consult with your low vision optometrist to discuss and determine which tint and lens type is best for your eyes.

  1.  Wear Wide Brim Hats and Visors

The use of hats or visors reduces discomfort from glare and prevents light from entering from above.

  1. Adjust Drapes or Blinds

Drapes, blinds, or shades can be used  to control and filter sunlight coming through the window and can be adjusted throughout the day as the sun moves.

  1. Use Filters

Filters can be purchased to use over your computer monitor, tablet or e-book reader screens to reduce glare.

  1.    Adjust the Brightness

Turn down the brightness in the Display and Brightness setting of your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Learn to adjust to your light sensitivity by being prepared with these different ways to diminish glare and it’s affect on your vision.


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN