It can take some time to adjust to a new climate – this is particularly true for your eyes. Increased hours of sunshine and UV ray exposure can lead to photophobia, a condition that makes the eyes sore and more sensitive to light.

To help you understand this eye condition a little better, we’ll take a look at how sunlight and UVB can cause phobophobia, and how you can protect your eyes against them.

What is photophobia?

Photophobia is a sensitivity to certain levels of light. If you experience an uncomfortable or painful feeling in response to sunlight or find that the light in your everyday environment is too bright and forces you to squint, you could be experiencing photophobia.

How do sunlight and UVB rays cause photophobia?

Sunlight is made up of a number of light rays, some of which are visible, and others which are invisible, such as UV rays. There are three different types of UV ray: UVA, UVB, and UVC. While UV energy can be beneficial in small amounts for absorbing vitamin D into the body, high amounts (especially if you aren’t using proper protection) can have a negative effect on your vision — triggering photophobia. UVB rays are the most damaging when it comes to their impact on our eyes.

UVB damage

Most UVB rays are absorbed by the front parts of the eye — the cornea and the lens. The cornea controls and focuses the entry of light into the eye, acting as a filter to protect the lens and the retina from UV radiation. Frequent and unprotected exposure to UVB rays, however, can have a damaging effect on the cornea.

How to protect your eyes against photophobia

It’s important that you protect your eyes against the sun — whether or not you experience photophobia. Here are a few simple steps to take.

Polarising sunglasses

For those who are sensitive to light or experience photophobia, polarising sunglasses might be a good choice. These lenses reduce the impact of glare on the eyes — perfect for protecting against bright sunlight reflections from the sand and sea.

Book an eye test

While spending long days out in the sunshine can trigger your symptoms, there may also be an underlying cause of your photophobia. It’s important to book regular eye tests every two years, or whenever you notice any eye pain or sensitivity. This is a good way to detect an underlying condition and keep your eye health in check.

At Specsavers Opticas, we offer a fully comprehensive experience for British expats, providing the same quality service you’d expect in the UK.


  1. Roberts. J., Ultraviolet radiation as a risk factor for cataract and macular degeneration, 2011 Jul;37(4):246-9. Available at: