Sensitive eyes and light may cause intense feelings

Many children with sensitive eyes or light sensitivity (photophobia) learn to adapt their lives to avoid the pain incurred with varying lighting. They may avoid playing outside, and they may exhibit meltdown behaviors after very little time in the sun or in commercial buildings. As little as five to ten minutes of exposure to sunshine can be painful for a person with a persistent sensitivity to light, according to research.

As little as five to ten minutes of exposure to sunshine can be painful for a person with a persistent sensitivity to light, according to research.
Stop signs, on coming traffic, people walking towards you compromise safety in bright light.

As children, they may avoid areas of rooms with fluorescent lighting that affects them. Families with children who have sensitive eyes have been known to use fluorescent lighting to create areas their children avoid. And yet, when they enter school they are bombarded by fluorescent lights, set in seating where they must be still.  Here is an eye exam example at age 14 with my daughter that revealed much.

Snellen chart misses the mark in helping some children and adults.
The Snellen Chart misses
the mark in helping
children with some of
the visual processing issues.

“Liz, read line 8,” said the eye doctor.

“I can’t,” Liz said.

“Then read line 6,” said the eye doctor.

“I can’t,” said Liz.

“How about line 4,” said the eye doctor.

“I can’t,” Liz replied.

“Can you read the top letter,” the doctor said sarcastically.

“No, can I step back?” asked Liz and she stepped back over two meters. “Now I can do it,” she stated and read line 10.

“How did you do that?” said the stunned doctor.

And she replied, “You put your stupid line under a fluorescent light and all the letters were dancing.”

There are thousands of disorders and you cannot expect the medical or education world to understand them unless they have had personal experience in addition to their education so that they can connect the dots. Sensitive eyes are only the beginning.

Jodee Kulp with Ann Yurcek

It takes the collaborative efforts of listening to the individuals and caregivers with the professionals to really create change that is effective for persons with differences.

Liz is now an independent adult, age 32. She creates her living environment to fit her needs. To protect her sensitve eyes she wears sunglasses in the daylight and colored contacts to dim the light she is exposed to. Her contacts are cosmetic and her choice of pink, brown and violet made me curious? Was there a reason?

I thought it was fashion, I was partially right, but also very wrong. Her most active room, the kitchen is painted pink with transparent pink curtains letting in rose-colored hues across the cages of her beloved birds. Her bathroom wall is pink when she faces to do her make up.  Again was this influential in helping her sensory input?

Blinds, shades, and translucent curtains provide additional environmental lighting control. Dimming switches and tinted lights allow for additional light management for sensitive eyes.

It is common for adults with prenatal exposure to alcohol to keep their homes lit dimly and become active as the sun goes down and rest as the sun rises. This poses continuous adaptation issues in medical appointments, social engagements, and family gatherings. In this blog, I searched to understand and help find my daughter collaborative solutions.

How does visual sensitivity impact the quality of life? Find out tomorrow in Part 2.

Missed the Introduction – Go back and enjoy Light Sensitivity now.

Learn more about neurodevelopment and how visual processing affects our children who are prenatally exposed to alcohol.
Learn more about visual processing and how we helped build connections.

“I have been working with FASD for over 30 years. During that time I have met very few people who have an understanding of this disability the way that Jodee Kulp has. Even rarer are the people who have the understanding of adolescents and adults with FASD that Jodee has. I can not recommend her enough for any project she may choose to involve herself in. A project involving adolescents and adults with FASD must have someone like Jodee Kulp to make it truly successful.”
— Renae Sanford, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Adult Case Management

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