Light sensitivity occurs when a child’s eyes hurt in response to light levels that wouldn’t normally cause any problems. Light sensitivity may occur on its own, or it may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea or headache.
Older children with light sensitivity can describe the symptom to parents clearly; however, younger children may not be as expressive. Children who begin covering their eyes or shying away from normal light levels should be evaluated.
Light sensitivity can have many different causes. In some cases, light sensitivity accompanies a migraine. It may also occur because of an injury to the eye. If light sensitivity develops after a child has experienced a head injury, it may be a sign of a concussion.
When a patient comes in with light sensitivity after a head injury, SportsSafe will take steps to determine if the symptom is related to a concussion. For most patients, this will involve a neurologic exam and an analysis of the patient’s medical history. SportsSafe providers may also order additional assessments to rule out or confirm the presence of a concussion.
Light sensitivity related to a concussion will usually resolve as the child heals from his/her concussion. In most cases, patients with a concussion simply need to rest and protect their brain from further injury. While the brain heals, patients won’t be able to participate in any activity that puts them at risk of a second brain injury, such as gym class, sports, or recess. They may also need to avoid strenuous cognitive activity temporarily.