We have been receiving an increasing number of reports that using tablets, cell phones, computers, or watching TV can trigger hyperactivity, other behavioral changes, and/or tics. For some people, the problem is related to hypersensitivity to light or changing light patterns. This article offers a discussion and suggestions. It has been updated and includes symptoms reported by Helen Irlen on how symptoms of autism were improved with tinted lenses. She makes it clear that this is not an issue for everyone with autism, but select cases it can make a dramatic difference.
Photophobia, or light sensitivity, is often reported for autism, ADHD, and Tourette syndrome or other tic disorders.
In a 2014 survey of adults with ADHD, 69% reported being visually oversensitive to light. It is well known that sensory overload is common in individuals with autism, and light sensitivity is among those reactions. A parent’s letter below is typical of reports we receive about tics and exposure to light.
While there is little information on remedies for photophobia for these conditions beyond avoidance of aggravating light sources, there are some approaches people can try to hopefully reduce reactions.
First, let’s clarify that when photophobia is mentioned in this article, it refers to responses to light that affect vision and the nervous system, in contrast to reactions that affect the skin (such a tendency to burn more easily after certain medications).