Service for Children with Sensory Needs
Tel/minicom: 01273 481154
Fax: 01273 481377
Meeting the needs of pupils with Photophobia
Photophobia is a sensitivity or intolerance to light and can cause great
discomfort to those affected by it.
Photophobia is usually associated with other visual conditions or disorders
such as corneal abrasion, retinal detachment, aniridia, ocular albinism and
What are the implications?
The main symptom of photophobia is a need to squint or to close the eyes to
shield them from bright light. Pupils may also suffer from headaches or migraines
of varying intensity.
A pupil with photophobia will find it difficult to work in bright light or glare.
Changing from dim lighting to bright light, or vice versa, will reduce a pupil’s visual
acuity for a time.
Strategies to support inclusion
In the classroom
Pupils will find it difficult to see a teacher who is silhouetted against a light source,
eg. an OHP. Avoid this if at all possible.
Pupils will find it difficult to see displays and notices placed against the bright light
of windows. Find areas for notices where the light can be controlled, eg. on a
For a pupil with photophobia, matt surfaces for working and on which to present
learning materials are preferable, as they prevent light reflection and glare.
Non-reflective materials such as cloth or paper can be placed over reflective
surfaces that may cause a pupil discomfort.
Move the pupil to a position within the class where the glare is not reflected off
windows, mirrors, wet or shiny surfaces, or white and brightly coloured surfaces.
If it is not possible to avoid all of these, move the pupil to a position where there
is least glare from these sources.
Control the light within the school building by the use of blinds on windows.
Outside the classroom
In bright light, the pupil may need to wear a visor or hat, and tinted glasses.
A pupil with photophobia may need to remain in the shade or indoors on sunny