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Shining a Light on Photophobia

Myasthenia gravis (MG) patients experience many symptoms. As individuals, we have different symptoms, react to the same situations differently, and medications work differently for different people.

While some of us have an increased sensitivity to light, some may not. For those of us that do have an increase in light sensitivity, will also have varying degrees of sensitivity and different causes.

Dealng with light sensitivity

In the early days of dealing with myasthenia, my eyes were very sensitive. I couldn’t drive anyway, but I also couldn’t see when the sun was shining brightly, especially when facing it. I’ve always had some light sensitivity, but this was worse.

I had a lot of difficulty opening my eyes, and when I did, they watered so bad I still couldn’t see well. I ended up getting a pair of sunglasses to wear every time I went outside.

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Another light that bothered me about as bad as the bright sunlight was the television and computer screens. I just had to deal with the television as it was. But I could dim the brightness on my laptop. Dimming the screen was a huge help, which helped me work for several hours at a time.

It causes distress

Mainly as an adult, strobe lights have always bothered me. They are hard on my eyes and cause pain. Long after they are gone, I continue to see lights going in circles and they also cause nausea and dizziness. And why, oh why, do people love to shine a flashlight or other bright light in your eyes?

It’s bad enough when they are using an incandescent bulb, but now with all the LEDs available, it’s not only blinding, but sickening, too! Some people think it’s funny. It isn’t at all funny when it can cause so much distress and discomfort.

Difficulty driving

Had I been driving at the time, nighttime driving would have been difficult, if not impossible. It didn’t seem to matter if the other driver had their bright lights or dims on. When we met other vehicles, I had to close my eyes or look away.

And snow! I think we all know how bright the snow can be on a sunny day. Most lights don’t seem to bother me as much now, but I still have problems with night driving and snow.

If the headlights are properly adjusted, I have little to no problem. But when they aren’t adjusted properly and/or have their bright lights on, especially with LEDs, there have been times I’ve nearly come to a complete stop in areas where it’s very dark. City driving isn’t so bad, as you don’t have all the darkness around you to factor in.

Making adjustments

The television usually doesn’t bother me much now. On occasion when my vision is blurred, the brightness from the screen is somewhat bothersome but tolerable. I can now spend hours working at the computer with little to no difficulty.

I’ve been driving pretty much all the time now since my husband became ill. As I said, when the headlights are properly adjusted and they dim as they are supposed to, I’m fine.

When we have a disease that can cause multiple issues, we have to learn to adjust our lives so we can continue living a full life. I refuse to give in to most any challenge without a fight!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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