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Why Does Everything Look Brighter than Normal?

Phoebe Jade

Written By:

Phoebe Jade

Updated: 19 May 2024 •  
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If you’ve ever had flashes where everything looks brighter than normal, it can be a disturbing experience.
 
Understanding its various possible causes can help you determine your best course of action.
 
In this post, you’ll learn why, how it can affect you, and what you can do about it.
 

Why you may feel everything looks brighter than normal

Here are some of the most common reasons things may look a little brighter than normal.
 

1. Atmospheric conditions play a role

 
woman staring into sunset

Both humidity and air pollution can cause bright sunsets.

 
The atmosphere can play an essential role in how we perceive light.
 
Humidity in the air can cause light sources to be brighter than usual.
 
For example, a humid atmosphere can cause the sun to appear more radiant, making sunsets more vivid and colorful.
 
High levels of air pollution have the same effect. In this case, airborne aerosols increase the sunlight scattered.
 
That’s why some of the most polluted cities in the world have vibrant sunsets.
 
In addition, if the night is not at all dark, perhaps it’s because of a phenomenon called sky glow.
 
This phenomenon is due to artificial light (from cars, buildings, streetlamps, etc.) in urban areas.
 

2. Light conditions can affect our vision

 
sunlight reflected on ice and snow can cause extra perceived brightness

When sunlight reflects off snow, it can seem like everything is brighter than usual.

 
When it comes to perception, lighting can make all the difference.
 
You know what this means if you’ve ever squinted in direct sunlight or due to glare.
 
In some cases, the intensity of light can enhance our perception, making colors seem brighter and more vivid.
 
But in other cases, it can overload our senses and cause us to miss important details.
 
The direction of the light can also play a role in our perception.
 
If you’re looking at something illuminated from below and from the left, it’s brighter.
 

3. You may have eye health issues

 
man experiecing migraine also sees visual disturbances

Migraines can cause visual disturbances like flashing lights.

 
Have you ever experienced a migraine or had cataracts?
 
If so, then you are probably familiar with the drastic way these health issues can affect your perception.
 
Migraines can cause visual disturbances like flashing lights or zigzag lines, while cataracts (clouding of the eye lens) can also make you see halos around lights.
 

But did you know that other health issues can also affect your perception?
 
For example, some people with diabetes report seeing flashing lights, a retinopathy symptom.
 
This eye condition causes damage to the retina (the part of the eye responsible for transforming light that enters the eye into electrical signals sent to the brain).
 

And certain medications like digoxin, used to treat heart conditions, can cause photophobia (where bright light hurts your eyes).
 

How vision brightness may affect your life

bright lights reflected off of car windows

Bright lights may affect your vision while driving.

 

You know those moments when everything just seems brighter than usual? Perhaps you think the sun shining extra bright is the reason.
 
This is pretty harmless, but it can be detrimental in certain situations.
 
Imagine you’re behind the wheel of a car, and suddenly everything appears brighter.
 
The light can blind you and have difficulty seeing other vehicles or pedestrians.
 
If this happens while traveling at high speeds, you may be unable to react quickly enough to avoid an accident.
 
Also, brighter-than-normal perception may cause issues when operating tools and machinery.
 
You can misjudge distances and find it hard to read gauges and dials accurately.
 
Brighter-than-normal perception can also lead to errors in color perception, making it harder to differentiate between specific colors.
 
These things can put you and others at risk for accidents.
 

Tips on dealing with vision brightness

man operating a machine

Brighter-than-normal perception may cause issues when operating tools and machinery.

 

One of the most effective ways to manage this condition is by adjusting to your environment. Dimming the lights or avoiding bright, fluorescent lights can be helpful.
 
You can also turn off overhead lights and close curtains or blinds.
 
woman closing curtains to control brightness in the room

Closing curtains or blinds is an easy and effective way to deal with vision brightness.

 

Try wearing glasses with transition lenses. This type of lens darkens when UV light (e.g. sunlight) hits it and goes back to clear when you go back indoors.
 
These lenses are also known as photochromatic lenses or reaction lenses.
 
You can also use a computer screen filter to reduce glare or adjust your computer or smartphone’s display settings for a dimmer, more soothing screen.
 
Of course, taking breaks from looking at screens or bright lights can give your eyes a chance to rest and recover.
 
eye doctor performing eye checkup for a patient

Seek medical attention if you’re experiencing brighter-than-normal perception.

 
While it may seem like a minor nuisance, the brighter-than-normal perception could be a symptom of an underlying health condition.
 
That’s why seeking medical attention is crucial if you’re experiencing this issue.
 
A doctor can help determine the cause of heightened perception and provide treatment options if necessary.
 

Vision brightness: benign or serious?

You might feel like everything looks brighter than expected for various reasons.
 
It could be due to atmospheric conditions like humidity and pollution or the intensity and direction of light – think direct sunlight and reflections.
 
Sometimes, health issues like migraines and cataracts could also be responsible for this perception.
 
Whatever the cause, it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional to rule out any underlying health issues.

Phoebe Jade

Written by:

Phoebe Jade

Phoebe is a registered nurse, licensed teacher and writer who's passionate about creating content that educates and inspires.