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Controlling light can help treat light sensitivity

Photophobia, commonly known as a sensitivity to light, is fairly common and can often be alleviated with simple changes to your home and office lighting.

While this sensitivity may be the result of a corneal abrasion, burn or disease, according to the National Institutes of Health, that's usually not the case, and simple remedies such as wearing dark or tinted glasses, darkening the room or avoiding direct sunlight may help quite a bit. 

Some people experience light sensitivity without any eye disease. It's wise, of course, to have your eyes checked by a professional if you suddenly notice this sensitivity. Otherwise, there are steps you can take to feel better. The U.K. Royal National Institute of Blind People, dedicated to eye health education, asserted that there's a scale of light sensitivity, and some people are simply more sensitive to light than others. Also, growing older can bring about sensitivity, since eye changes occur even when without disease.

Ways to feel better
The most obvious way to ease the discomfort of light sensitivity is by wearing hats and sunglasses that shade eyes from light and glare. The National Eye Institute, part of the NIH, recommended choosing sunglasses with care. While they're certainly a great fashion accessory, their real job is to protect your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Control your environment
Even if it's not a question of light sensitivity, you may discover that the lighting in a room is just too bright, but without it, the room is too dark. The simplest answer? Replace standard wall switches with dimmer switches, which give you precise control over the intensity of the light. Most often used with incandescent, not fluorescent, lighting fixtures, they work well in most homes and many offices and can be attached to almost any internal lighting to vary the brightness or dimness. Basically, they work by increasing or decreasing the amount of power supplied to the light.

Pick your spots
Ideally, you could use dimmer switches in every room, but start with the areas you use the most or that have the greatest impact on your electric bill. Some surveys have shown, surprisingly, that the master bedroom lighting accounts for as much as 15 percent of electricity consumption - and that's including high-use appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and washer/dryers.

Remember, too, that dimmers are decorating tools, so you might consider adding elegant switch plates, decorative plug covers and versatile wall lamps when you install the switches.

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