Wednesday, 8 February 2012

When bright light makes you blind: The pathetic tale of people suffering from photophobia

By Syed Akbar
Five-year-old Asma Sultana has a pathetic tale to tell. Like her two elder sisters Rehana Sultana (6) and Najma 
Sultana (7), she can't tolerate light. Bright light makes her virtually blind. The three girls were diagnosed by doctors 
at LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad as suffering from a strange eye problem called cone dystrophy.
Their father, a daily labourer, deserted the girls after he noticed that the eye defect could not be rectified. The girls' 
mother took care of them and admitted in a local government school. But soon the problems began for the girls as 
they could not see the black board or move freely in the open.
The mother then took the girls to LV Prasad Eye Institute where doctors prescribed some simple techniques to 
reduce the problem. The girls now have an improved vision and play with other children. The doctors helped the 
girls overcome the defect by advising sunglasses. The girls were given absorptive or tinted lenses that reduce glare. 
They were also advised to wear hat for shade from sunlight.
"There is no permanent treatment or cure to photophobia but better eye management and eye care techniques will 
reduce the trouble. Lubricant eye drops will also help. Patients find it difficult to drive during night because of 
headlights glare. Even during the day time they feel uncomfortable in the sunlight," says senior ophthalmologist Dr 
Sreekumar Reddy.
The problem with these three girls was that they are extremely sensitive to light and lower their gaze while walking. 
They squint and blink at the slightest glare. Cone dystrophy in their eyes has led to this rare condition called 
photophobia or hyper sensitivity to light.
Andhra Pradesh has thousands of children and adults with photophobia and the number is increasing with the each 
passing year. Neglect of ophthalmic care by parents in case of young children is said to be one of the causes for low 
vision coupled with sensitivity of light. As many as five crore people suffer from the low vision problem in the 
country and quite a considerable number of them complains of photophobia.
Though there are no official statistics on the number of photophobia patients in the country, the problem is quite 
common in albinos or "moon-children" and those with low vision. People who suffer from various eye diseases like 
ocular albinism, cataract, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy also complain of sensitivity to light like these 
girls. "For a clear image to appear on the retina a clear medium is needed. In case of opacity in the eye the 
intraocular light gets scattered bringing down the vision levels. Such eyes become extremely sensitive to light and 
glare. People with photophobia see glare in light that appears normal for healthy people," says ophthalmologist Dr 
Altaf Akbar.
Eyecare specialists suggest that coloured lenses with specific tints to  restrict different wavelengths of light will do 
wonders. The patient may choose from a wide range of colours that suit his or her eyes.
Filters, that come in different tints at various levels of absorption and different cut-off points, provide contrast 
enhancement and help in light adaptation. Corning photochromic filters are also useful since short wavelength light 
has been shown to cause hazy vision, reduced contrast and discomfort. The photochromic filters filtering out blue 
light in the visible portion of the spectrum, at the wavelengths that create problems for the photophobic patients. 
They are specially designed to filter short wavelength light.
Some ophthalmologists are of the view that ultra violet shields (of blue spectrum) provide protection for 100 per cent 
UV and visible light. The filter in the shields eliminates near infrared 100 per cent UV and provides visible light 
For those who find it a problem while reading because of reflection from white pages may go in for typoscope (a 
black, non-reflective plastic card with a rectangle cut out of it).
A hat with a wide brim or a sun visor can help cut down glare and facilitate mobility outdoors.
When photophobic patients move between places of different lighting levels (say from sunlight to a closed room or 
vice versa), doctors suggest that they pause a while, take off or put on the sunglasses depending whether they are 
moving in or out of sunlight. This allows their eyes to adjust without causing any visual discomfort.

No comments:

Word Of The Day - Improve Your Knowledge

Word of the Day

Article of the Day

This Day in History

Today's Birthday

In the News

Quote of the Day

Spelling Bee
difficulty level:
score: -
please wait...
spell the word:

Match Up
Match each word in the left column with its synonym on the right. When finished, click Answer to see the results. Good luck!



This Day In History

Mother's Care

Mother's Care
Minnu The Cat & Her Kittens Brownie, Goldie & Blackie

Someone with Nature

Someone with Nature
Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Under the shade of Baobab tree

Under the shade of Baobab tree
At Agha Khan Akademi in Kenya

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Convention on Biodiversity

Convention on Biodiversity
Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity