Diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment of photophobia

Surv Ophthalmol. Jul-Aug 2016;61(4):466-77. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2016.02.001. Epub 2016 Feb 12.


Photophobia, an abnormal intolerance to light, is associated with a number of ophthalmic and neurologic conditions. In the presence of normal neurologic and ophthalmologic examinations, the most common conditions associated with photophobia are migraine, blepharospasm, and traumatic brain injury. Recent evidence indicates that the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells play a key role in the pathophysiology of photophobia. Although pharmacologic manipulation of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells and the neural pathways that mediate photophobia may be possible in the future, current therapies are directed at the underlying cause of the photophobia and optical modulation of these cells and pathways.

Keywords: FL-41; blepharospasm; dry eye; intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells; light sensitivity; migraine; photooculodynia; photophobia; thin-films; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
  • Disease Management*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / complications*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Photophobia* / diagnosis
  • Photophobia* / etiology
  • Photophobia* / therapy
  • Vision, Ocular*