4Th Grader Says the Light Is Too Bright in Classroom, Makes Him Tired

Updated on August 26, 2019
M.T. asks from Saint Paul, MN
15 answers

Hi, my son starting 4th grade this fall says that the light is too bright in his classroom and it makes him too tired to look at the whiteboard for too long. He says it's better when he was in a classroom with a blackboard, but multiple classes in a row using whiteboard makes him tired that he no longer can focus on the class. I suggested (half jokingly) to wear sunglasses when he notices that his eyes are getting tired from the light but he does not want to. He wears eye glasses for extreme far-sightedness (prescription 6+) which gets adjusted annually. I wonder if this kind of light sensitivity (?) is some kind of a disability? Is there anything that can be done? I know that the intensity of the ceiling light in the classroom cannot be adjusted. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. Thank you.

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So What Happened?

Everyone who responded, thank you SO MUCH!!! This will not be the only response from me. I do plan to make an appointment with his regular ophthalmologist to discuss this (may be several weeks before he can be seen). However, he got new glasses yesterday (unfortunately ordered before I realized he had this issue). He has an exchange time frame of 30 days. I asked the opticians there if there are films/coatings on the lens to address light sensitivity and I was suggested anti-glare and blue light blocker which would help with glare and fluorescent lights. I wonder if anyone has had experience with these coatings and if they have helped.

The room that my son has problem in has fluorescent lights (as well as sky light). From what he is saying, the reflection (from the white board) is more of the problem than what is from the ceiling and when he is looking from material from the projector (projected onto the white board) it is worse.

Again, thank you so much for your responses. It is just good to know that this is a real issue and there are many who have dealt with this. I will update as I find out more as I see the ophthalmologist and his PCP. If you have any input on the lens coatings please send them to me.

More update (Dec 2019). We got glare and blue light blocker on his glass lenses ($180 expense!), but apparently it did not help, according to our son :(. He says that it is not the ceiling light but the reflection from the projector that hurts the most, but sitting in back row does not change anything. So we are left where we started, but he does not complaining as much. He is doing better (in terms of his understanding and grades) in the class where he used to complain better about. He just says things are not any better for him when I specifically ask him. I wonder if a part of it was/is his discomfort/dislike of the specific class. We'll keep working on this. Thank you for your input!

Featured Answers


answers from New York on

Teachers in my school have added fabric to the light covers to make them dimmer. So there are options if he is with the same teacher all day or if his afternoon teachers are willing to do this for him..
Another option would be to ask the eye Dr what is going on and if there are solutions for it. Maybe a transitions lens that is sensitive? Or some sort of slightly tinted lenses that he could wear to help?

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

Welcome back M.! You've been gone a long time!!

I would take my son to an ophthalmologist - not just an optometrist - but an ophthalmologist. Does his head hurt at all, like a headache when he "gets tired"? What has he told the teacher?

I would talk with the teacher and the school - if his wearing sunglasses cuts down on the glare and helps him? I don't think they would be opposed to it. However, it would help if you had something from a doctor that there is a problem.

Good luck! I hope it's nothing serious!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Well, it can't hurt to ask your eye doctor.

Most classrooms use florescent light, and that can annoy my eyes. It depends on exactly where the light is compared to where I'm sitting, so you could talk to your son's teachers about possibly letting him try a different seat to see if that helps.

They do make glasses with a tint that gets darker as things get brighter. That's another thing you could talk to your son and eye doctor about.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I substitute teach and all we use are white boards that have whatever is on the computer screen projected to the board. We can also write on a paper on our desk that projects to the white board. They are not "projectors" like we had way back when I was a student.

In a lot of my rooms, there are 2 light switches and MOST of the teachers in the school turn one set of the lights off because it is bright. This seems to help. Also, during downtime we turn all lights out and only have natural light. The students seem to like the variation during the day.

My daughter, 24, does not wear prescription glasses but the bright lights and computers at here office as well as the driving here in TX bothers her. She bought some sort of reflective glasses from Amazon ($100) that she wears a lot. The look like regular script glasses but they are not. They help her stay headache free.

I hope, along with your Dr visit that you find something that works well for your son.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have migraines as does my husband. I am light sensitive. I also have glasses (quite a high prescription - higher than your son's, but was probably around that at his age).

I am bothered by light from overheard lights (fluorescent). If I go into certain stores that use very bright lights, I can only stay so long, before I feel totally drained. It's the same with some waiting rooms for example. It can 'trigger' a migraine for me. I leave before that happens. I know the signs. I feel totally weary. For my husband, he will turn the lights out in his office, otherwise he'll get those squiggles in his vision.

Your son may just be light sensitive - doesn't have to have a neurological condition (migraines, etc.). I don't know what kind of bulbs they use in his class, but a lot of people are bothered by fluorescent bulbs.

At work, people removed bulbs to make it a bit more dim - just over where they sat. So while you can't shut the lights off, they could control their own 'area' a tad.

The other option is the lens that dim slightly. You can have this adjusted to whatever you want. My sister has a pair that go from regular to total sunglasses for driving. However, they can be just slightly dimmed - barely noticeable. You would just talk to an optometrist to see if that's an option for your son. I know they cost more than regular lenses but if it helps with school may be good idea.

I think what I'd do first, is try seating him in different spots. It could just be 'glare' from the white board where it's light, and maybe away from a window, or whatever, or somewhere either further or nearer may help. Maybe he could go in at lunch and just work with the teachers until he finds a spot that lessens the effect. That would be where I would start. I know kids don't like doing that but it would be the simplest solution.

I'd mention it to his optometrist and his pediatrician though. I'd note if it happens any other time - like stores, or outside (bright sunshine) or if he ever comments from TV or using devices (screen time).

If it's just glare, then a lot of people get that - a lot of adults where sunglasses for that reason. He might need a prescription update and his eyes are just more tired than usual and he's responding to that. Is it time for one? I know if I wear my contacts too long for example (wear disposable) my eyes get really tired, drained, and are bothered by everything. Just a thought - if they are strained already, that would make it worse.

Good luck :) Hope you can find a solution

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Light sensitivity can be a symptom of something else going on.
Talk with your ophthalmologist and have your son checked out.
If the underlying cause can be treated the light sensitivity might go away.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Please take your son to the ophthalmologist. He might have ocular migraines and things can be done to help him. Not just medication.

Talk with the school about this and let him wear sunglasses, IF that helps with the glare.

Ask about the lights, are they LED or fluorescent. Is he ONLY in one classroom and is it ONLY that classroom that gives him trouble? if so, talk with other parents to see if there is a problem and if so, get the school to fix it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

One of my kids had light sensitivity that was a result of adrenal fatigue. We were able to find this out through a doctor that is experienced in many types of medicine and tries to find the root of a problem and not just medicate to mask symptoms. Light sensitivity is a symptom of a problem so it’s good that you are noticing. After taking a supplement for adrenal support, we saw great improvement and received no more complaints about light sensitivity.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Start with talking with his teacher and see what can be adjusted.

I would also mention this to his eye doctor.

I completely agree with Margie G.

I am also a migraine sufferer and have light sensitivity. It is draining and makes me irritable. Strangely, I even get it from the sun. I also get seasonal affective disorder in the summer from too many sunny days.....The sun is very loud, and day after day of that loud sunny brightness wears me down pretty bad.

So definitely speak up for your son and see what can be done. Glad your son spoke up and didn’t just try to deal with it on his own.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My son was recently diagnosed with dysgraphia. In researching issues related to dyslexia and dysgraphia, I found several mentions of similar issues. Usually it was reports of difficulty reading certain types of paper. There are blue transparencies that children can use to put on top of their reading to make them more “Eye” friendly. I wonder if there might not be something similar for glasses themselves – something like a snap on sunglasses that you could remove when they weren’t necessary. Start with a pediatric ophthalmologist, but don’t be afraid to move on to a pediatric neurologist or Neuropsychologist if you aren’t getting answers that are helpful. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I am bothered by fluorescent lights, so I can completely relate to your son. They make me feel exhausted after a while. I also suffer from migraines and definitely have a light sensitivity. My son (15) is very sensitive to things too and he used to say the sound from the lights is so loud. They emit a high frequency sound and it bothered him. I tried turning the lights on and off and he was right! I never realized that. Prescription sunglasses help a lot for me, but you say your son doesn't want them. Has he tried wearing a baseball hat to reduce some of the light getting to his eyes? This would not be conspicuous like sunglasses. In my office I turn off the overhead lights and I bought a couple stand up lamps with softer, warm lightbulbs and this works great! Talk to his teacher and ask if she would consider trying this if you bought her 4 stand up lights (you can also often find good ones at thrift stores) for the classroom. Even if she did this for only part of the day, it would help I'm sure.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have glasses with an anti glare coating. They also darken in sunlight. I don't know if they have blue blocker. They help me.

My phone has a blue blocker option. I use it. When I'm using the blue blocker my screen has a more gray tone. Without the blue blocker the screen is brighter.

A friend has glasses that are tinted much lighter than sun glasses. She began using them after cataract surgery.she said they reduce glare.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I would contact his teachers and speak with them. Changing a seat might help, closing the shades and maybe even turning down few lights might help. I always surprised why teachers have full lights on when sunlight is enough to light up the classroom.. also I used to work for an eye dr ophthalmologist and referred lots to an eye glass store.. they make lenses that dim rx or not. Maybe looking into that.. they automatically become darker when sunlight is present. Maybe going and testing.

And last I say speak to his dr pediatrician and his ophthalmologist to see what they suggest as well.. and so it’s in his chart.

Lots of luck to the little guy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

what great questions these would be for an ophthamologist!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Ask about anti-reflective coating on his glasses. Other than that, maybe there is something like transition lenses that can give him a slight tint when the lighting is too bright. There are also computer glasses that are for the purpose of blocking out bright white and blue lighting, which strains eyes. They usually have yellow lenses, or other colors. I know what he means, I have very sensitive eyes, and I find myself squinting in places where there are also white walls and strong fluorescent lighting, or sunlight.

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