Light-sensitivity solutions

I have a friend who has an associate who has needed help for a long time, but apparently hasn’t gotten what they needed. This friend-of-a-friend (I’ll call them “Foaf”) is a very unhappy person who is just a drag, even to be anywhere near. I’ve encountered them in passing – literally – when we crossed paths in the past, and they had this really miserable vibe that totally turned me off.

My friend, who has a kind streak that’s almost super-human, has been trying to help them, with varying degrees of success.

A while back, Foaf informed my friend that they think they found out one of the things that has been making their life so hard to handle — when they were little, they got hit on the head with a baseball bat. And they think that their lifetime of problems could trace back to that experience.

My friend has been doing research about head injury, and I’ve been feeding them info as I go along. It turns out that my realizations around my own TBIs happened roughly the same time as this other person’s — was there something in the air/water? They’ve been able to pass along what I’ve given them to Foaf, and I think it’s been helping.

Now, over the course of the past months, my friend has mentioned a bunch of times that Foaf has trouble with light sensitivity. Their choices in life are actually pretty limited because of it, too. They cannot go some places because the lights are too bright. They have a hard time dealing with stuff in general, because of their light sensitivity. My friend asked, a few weeks ago, “Do you think this could have anything to do with their head injury?”

“Yes,” I responded emphatically. It hadn’t occurred to me that they might think it didn’t.

Light sensitivity is a common after-effect of head injury.

At the South Florida Psychology website, they list the following symptoms of post-concussive syndrome:

Symptoms of Postconcussion Syndrome

Symptom Percent of Patients
Poor concentration 71%
Irritability 66%
Tired a lot more 64%
Depression 63%
Memory problems 59%
Headaches 59%
Anxiety 58%
Trouble thinking 57%
Dizziness 52%
Blurry or double vision 45%
Sensitivity to bright light 40%

Even sensitivity to regular light could be a problem. And there are other issues as well, which are too many to go into at this point.

So, what can a person do about this?

Well, first of all

Understand that your vision problem may be neurological, instead of psychological. Nothing makes me crazier than thinking my head injury issues are because of some psychological problem(s) I have. I thought for years that my problems were “character defects” or evidence of mental illness that could be cured with therapy or support groups. While these things have helped me a great deal, understanding my issues as physiological ones lets me think about them differently and take steps to address them concretely, instead of trying to change my thinking or feeling about them.

Next,

See if corrective lenses help. There are a number of options you have.

Irlen Lenses can help. They “filter out the offending wave lengths of light which create [neurologically-based] stress” and givey our brain a break from dealing with crazy light frequencies that you can’t handle.

Amber sunglasses can also help — they are better at blocking certain kinds of light than the green or gray ones. I have amber sunglasses that I put on just about anytime I’m driving durin gthe day. Even when it’s cloudy, I wear them. There’s something about the wavelengths they block that is very helpful to me. In fact, when I’ve gone out on bright sunny days without them, I’ve had a tremendous amount of stress, and oneday when I was driving to work, I had a bit of a meltdown over next to nothing.

It puzzled me at the time, but when I think back, it was a bright, sunny day and I wasn’t wearing my sunglasses.

I’m not exactly sure how a person goes about getting Irlen lenses. I guess you’d talk to your doctor about it. For me, my amber-tinted sunglasses– and understanding that I have trouble with bright light — helps enough to get me through the day safely.

I told my friend about Irlen lenses and amber-tinted sunglasses. They’re going to pass the info along to Foaf. I hope it helps ease their discomfort and makes them a happier person. They deserve it.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

6 thoughts on “Light-sensitivity solutions”

  1. i think this article is very interesting because i have suffered with stress and panic attacks and sensitivity to light. i have always been told it was due to stress this theory may explain why i even when i don’t feel very stressed i still am sensitive to light. what seems to be relevant to me is that i have had about 7 bad blows to my head 3 of which nearly killed me

    Like

  2. trykman53, I’m not a doctor, but that sounds right-on. Blows to the head, including ones that nearly kill you, can make you very sensitive to light, as well as add stress and panic attacks. There’s no doubt in my mind that my own brain injuries have added to my stress and panic and sensitivities — light as well as sound. I’d be willing to bet the same is true for you.

    Make sure you get plenty of rest, eat well, and keep your sunglasses handy.

    Be well
    BB

    Like

  3. We did the Irlen screening about two weeks ago. My kid has the sensitivity since the TBI. We discovered that blue-gray plastic filters help her with reading. And the amber sunglasses she was wearing needed to be exchanged for blue-gray lenses as the others were contributing to her sensitivities. I was not surprised by the screening reaults, but I was surprised by how dramatically the right colored filter improved her ability to perform paper tasks with less fatigue–shocked that something so simple could be that dramatically impactful.

    So now we are trying to find lenses that can be tinted. The first provider (optometry) we went to did not sell the lenses seperately, so we are going to be checking out LensCrafters and Costco. The lenses cannot be in the frames when they are tinted and must be popped back into their frames after the tinting is completed.

    Very expensive to have the screening and the tinting where we live, but if it relieves the daily headaches and lessens the fatigue, it will be worth it. Additionally, wearing dark lenses at school all the time significantly decreases social interaction and that period of life is hard enough. Really hoping the Irlen lenses make a difference in that aspect too.

    Like

  4. That is great that you found some solutions. It doesn’t surprise me that it helped so much, because the stress of having your body not behave properly hits you on multiple fronts — the plain old logistics of it, the anxiety and fear of it, the insecurity of it, and the social stress of it. All these things happen beneath the surface, where people cannot tell they’re happening. And so often, we cannot articulate what our experience is, because A) we’re just trying to maintain, B) it’s hugely upsetting to think about it, C) finding the words for visceral experience is difficult in itself, and D) tons of failure at trying to articulate and communicate in the past. There are many other reasons, of course, but you get the idea… So glad to hear your daughter has something that will work for her. Have you looked online for less expensive lenses/frames? I’m sure you have, but just thought I’d mention it… Congrats – and continued good luck to you.

    Like

  5. I could have written this myself! I recently bought blue light blocking glasses to wear at night. I noticed that they seem to “calm” my ever active neurology, so I decided to wear them during the day too. Today is day 2. A neighbor is having roof work done today. The sound of the power nail gun startled me, but DID NOT SPIKE my neurology. Usually anything that startles me causes such a spike in what can best be described as anxiety, and completely shuts me down. I just wanted to share this. Any time I find something that adds a little normalcy back to my life, I just want to shout it from a mountain top. Also, you are spot on about the invisible effects and the difficulties articulating it.

    Liked by 1 person

Talk about this - No email is required

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: