Triggers are phenomena that are likely to cause or precipitate symptoms – usually in or around the head / neck. One of the most common triggers is a sensitivity to light which can lead to full photophobia in some cases.

Light sensitivity can cause pain in, behind and around the eyes and brain, and may trigger an underlying condition as well as causing anxiety.

Symptoms can start surprisingly quickly after exposure.

If this is a trigger factor the types of light / lighting can make a difference and they include:

  • Fluorescent lighting – especially in workshops, hospitals etc
  • Digital screens – computer. ipad, phone, TV and other monitors
  • Bright sunlight and outdoor glare
  • Flickering light eg travelling through trees when the sun is low or at a disco

The most common disorders that are light sensitive and give balance issues are:

  1. Vestibular migraines which give dizziness and vertigo too
  2. Traumatic brain injuries
  3. Post-concussion syndrome
  4. Menieres Disease
  5. Visual vertigo

Vestibular Migraines

Light sensitivity is the 2nd most cited symptom after a headache for any type of migraine. Either with or without an aura. More than 90% report negative or painful reactions to light during their vestibular episodes.

Menieres Disease

A leading cause of dixzziness and vertigo due to a build up of fluid in the semi-circular canals in the inner ear which give our perception of movement and tilt of the head etc.

Menieres patients are twice as likely to have migraines as the normal population too.

This responds especially well to Cranial Osteopathy.


First of all get an accurate diagnosis. You need to get clear about exactly what is causing your dizziness – as then appropriate treatment can be indicated. Osteopaths are primary diagnosticians, and as such, have the training, time and experience to differentially diagnose. Further tests may also be needed.

Avoid dark adaptation! It is instinctive for light sensitive patients to find a quiet, dark place to rest… but if this becomes habitual ie curtains are always drawn, or they wear sunglasses all the time it can make the photohobia worse over time. Unless during an attack, when you often feel so awful you can’t do much anyway; try to have as normal and regular lifestyle as possible.

Use of FL-41 tinted lens filters. This special tint to glasses can have a good effect for sufferers. It has been shown to reduce the effect of light on symptoms by 74% by reducing the blue-green light component.

Stay hydrated. A biggie but often totally overlooked – if you get dry (and given that your body requires water molecules for EVERY action) your cells and messaging systems will not work. Period.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Exercises. Simple exercises are used to improve vestibular symptoms. Your neurologist or Osteopath can teach you these. They work over time but help to reduce the vertigo / dizzy spells and re-order the brain neurones.

Here is the video to accompany the post and then the transcript.

Light Sensitivity Disorders or Photophobia. There are several which can be triggered by light and often result in migraines, dizziness etc.Helped by Osteopathy often!#OsteopathyWorks #livingelementsclinic

Posted by Living Elements Clinic on Wednesday, 18 September 2019

If you have found this useful – please comment below.

If you wish to make an appointment click here.

Your Health IS My Priority!

Best wishes,



By Gayle Palmer

Hello. This is Gayle Palmer, the Osteopath from the Living Elements Clinic and today’s topic is light sensitivity disorders or disorders that caused photophobia – where you are unable to tolerate lots of light coming into your eyes and they can give you other symptoms. So, migraines, disturbances with your balance or so, those are vestibular disorders.

So, I thought I would talk about those in a bit more detail because a lot of people do not realize that osteopaths and especially cranial osteopaths are able to make a difference to some of these.

The most common disorder which is light sensitive and gives you vestibular disturbances are vestibular migraines and those are migraines which can give you sense of disorientation, dizziness, vertigo, can lead to vomiting as well and one of the trigger factors is often light. And light in the form of very bright light. It is September here now, it is a beautiful sunny day and I am squinting as you can see! but also florescent light, so florescent lights in the offices in particular are where they are popular or flickering lights from TV or computers, or IPads, phones, etc. Those often are trigger factor and those can make a huge difference as to whether you are going to have a migraine or not. Just that extra light is enough to trigger the whole cascade of symptoms that you can get.

Other causes of light sensitivity, traumatic brain events and post-concussion events; those are often reasons for problems with light sensitivity and photophobias. Again, all the same thing, different types of light and flickering lights particularly in the ocean. You know, I have this occasionally although less now, you go through low angled light and trees in the winter and you get that flickering effect and you could probably see that just by me shaking my hand at that. That can trigger your nervous system too, to cause an event.

Sadly, 40% of people who have traumatic brain injuries will end up with ongoing long term symptoms. So, it is something that, if possible that can get addressed quickly and early after an event like that, can make a real difference for the rest of their lives.

Other things, many eye diseases surprisingly common, 40% of many eye disease patients also get migraines. Many eye diseases are also characterized by dizziness and vertigo in particular. Sometimes it is accompanied by a slightly stiff neck but it is not related to meningitis ( It is an infection in part of a brain membrane). It is actually due to a buildup of fluid in the semicircular canals which organize your balance system. There are three canals, so that you have all planes, and activate it when you are moving and that helps you give a sense of where you are in space. As I said, 40% of the patients with many eye disease also have migraine problems but many have eye movements issues, also may happen to have a dizzy feel and that is aggravated by light and increased light sensitivity too.

Light sensitivity can give you complex or distorted images and way back this was not directly related to the light sensitivity, but to the processing in the brain and the parts of the brain that are there so if there are disturbances with that, that can affect how other things work. So, that is something to really bear in mind. For some people looking into a shut window, that will trigger something. Even watching passers by.

There is no age distinction or difference, or other factors related to vestibular conditions. So, it is not age dependent.

So, how do you go back treating it?

First of all, prove a diagnosis. Really important. And osteopaths are especially good at that. Partly because we are not any able to listen to what our patients are saying with enough time to do so but we have extremely sensitive hands and they give us extremely important and accurate information about what is happening and where.

One of the most common desires when you have a vestibular event going on, with or without photosensitivity, is to go into a darken room, lie down, cut out all sound, stay still – and that is fine but one of the things that they have found that if you do that a lot – Actually, instead of improving the situation, it can aggravate the situation!

Back in the early 1990s, there was a whole load research as well about using special kind of lens, a few glasses and it is a special tint known as an RL-41 and it has been shown because it is slightly reduce system like coming into your eyes that it cuts out migraine attacks while about 74% which is awesome. But over time, it works by cutting out the blue green wave links and that tends to desensitize the brain for dealing with that. So, that is something that might be worth looking at.

And other thing includes vestibular rehabilitation. It is a whole series of exercises that you can do, if you have many eye or vertigo generally. With specific exercises to help make your semicircular canals work better.

As an osteopath, I am able to give you those exercises as well but cranial osteopathy works brilliantly for so many of these conditions even if they might not cure it initially, just by reducing the frequency or duration of the symptoms can safely transform someone’s life.

So, if you are interested in finding out more, or you want to have a consultation, by all means, use the “book now” links and make an appointment to come and see me. I hope that has been an interest to you, and might even surprise you, so if it has, put a comment below and thanks for listening. Take care for now. Bye-bye.


Subscribe To Gayle'sNewsletter

Join the mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Gayle Palmer.

You have Successfully Subscribed!