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Bright Lights Plus White Shirts Equals Headaches (Or The Phobia That Is Not Technically A Phobia)
You may have noticed a large yellow ball in the sky recently???  It's called "The Sun" apparently.  Well, that is what most people call it.  You know the type - those who like to barbecue/grill/toast (delete as applicable) themselves underneath its rays whilst slathering on lots of basting juices (sorry - suntan lotion) and turning over every once in a while until they either turn golden brown or lobster red.

I happen to dread weather like we have been having (and not only because I don't like hot temperatures) so much so that I prefer being inside a solid building if I can help it.


Well, I happen to suffer from something called "Photophobia".  I have written about it on here a few times before but I decided to try to explain a bit more about it and how it affects me day to day.

When you think about it - "Photophobia" is a bit of a strange name for a condition which has nothing to do with a fear of photographs (although cameras do affect it).  After all, Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces - arachnophobia is a fear of arachnids (or spiders), etc.

The "Photo" bit of Photophobia would be closer to the truth if it was replaced with the word "Light" - and the "phobia" bit would be closer to the truth if it was replaced with the word "sensitivity".

In plain English my eyes are supersensitive to bright lights.

Bright sunlight, Fluorescent lights, camera flashes, car headlights, Any kind of projector light with a large quantity of white in the display.  Oh and white shirts.

Yes - you did read that last one correctly.  That pristine white shirt you have decided to put on this morning can be the worst choice of clothing you own.  I know it looks smart and tidy to you and everybody else. However, to me it should be classed as an instrument of torture.

Allow me to explain - or at least attempt to explain.

White reflects light.  This means that if I have to look at a white shirt (and I am not being sexist here - the majority of humans who regularly wear white shirts are of the male species) and the rest of my surroundings are either slightly darker or brighter than the shirt my eyes will start complaining (if my surroundings are pitch black - or what I would consider to be pitch black - the colour of the shirt doesn't make any difference as the chances are I cannot see it any way).  In fact, my eyes will start sending the same signals to my brain as if they were being forced to look at car headlights, or a white projector screen - "remove us from the vicinity of the bright lights - or at least allow us to close until the bright lights have passed".  Not very useful when you are in an office and you have to look at the person who is either speaking to you or demostrating something to you.

If you insist on wearing a white shirt in bright light please find something to wear over the majority of it.  Either that or unbutton it and roll the sleeves up - even skin is preferable to a large expanse of white.  (Sometimes I just feel like picking up the nearest pen and writing or doodling on the shirt.)

Or you could be very kind to me (and people like me) and replace those pristine white shirts with shirts with a hint of colour (pale blue is a favourite of mine).

On a slightly different note - I think I shocked a highranking Twittercop last week by thanking them for the video of the police car they put on Twitter.

I think my exact words were "FINALLY! A police car that doesn't blind people who suffer from Photophobia - THANK YOU!".

If you saw a blog post I put on here approximately 12 months ago where I interviewed Simon Cole, who is (at time of writing at least) the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police, you will know I asked him about the alternating flashing headlights on Police cars when they have got their lights and sirens on at night.

(Whilst we are on the subject of car headlights - if you want my attention at night and you are in a car with your headlights on - please remember the old "Dip don't Dazzle" advert.  I know you will automatically flash your lights so they are on full beam - but I would honestly prefer it - and it would be safer - if you dipped or turned your headlights off to signal your location.  Especially if you expect me to walk towards you immediately after locating you.)

Anyway - the car had its blue flashing lights on as per usual.  Come to think of it the car looked like it had more blue flashing light on it than any police car I have seen before.  I thought only ambulances, Fire Engines, and Riot Vans had blue flashing lights in the radiator grills, I could be wrong though.  However, the alternating flashing headlights were conspicuous by their absence.

(I was hoping to put a link to the video but I am awaiting permission - not to mention a link.)
Highranking Twittercop was a bit stunned by my reaction and apologised for not understanding it at first.  When I explained as best I could in 140 characters, he asked me what could be done to improve things.

I was pleased to learn that uptodate police cars have a system where it is impossible to turn the alternating flashing headlights on at night.

I would like to finish with a bit of an explanation.

Even though I wear Transition Lenses (or what used to be called "Reactolite" glasses) my eyes still need time to adjust when going from light areas to dark areas - as my lenses don't cover my entire eyes.  This means I find it a bit more difficult to see people in darker spaces.  So - if you speak and then notice me looking around as though I think the place may be haunted - please do not be alarmed.  I am aware there is another human somewhere I just need time to be able to see you - just keep talking until I speak back to you.

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