Visual hypersensitivity

What is Visual hypersensitivity?

Visual hypersensitivity is when information from the sense of sight is received too intensely. The person may suffer when it's too bright, when there's a very cluttered environment, too many colors or a large quantity of things to look at. Autistic people have hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities more often, but people without any particular developmental diagnosis can also have these conditions.

What is visual hypersensitivity?

Visual hypersensitivity is a sensory visual disorder in which there is an overly strong response to visual stimuli. The other term for visual hypersensitivity is visual hyperesthesia. This can create aversion towards certain visual stimuli and even cause pain.

Symptoms of visual hypersensitivity

The symptoms of visual hypersensitivity vary from person to person. You don’t have to have the whole list of symptoms to be hypersensitive, and there are many symptoms that aren’t on this list.

Consequences of visual hypersensitivity

The consequences of hypersensitivity to light, patterns, or other things we see vary greatly from person to person, depending on age, skills, environment and the tools at our disposal.

Some colors give me a headache and make me nauseous.

What to do if visual hypersensitivity is a problem?

You have to be creative and proactive, identify the problem and find ways to eliminate or mitigate its effects.

Eliminating the problem means cutting off the source of the problematic stimulus.

Reducing the negative effects of the problem means giving the person the tools to make the stimulus less intrusive. This can be done with tools, objects or equipment.


It's common to receive negative comments or questions, whether appropriate or not, when an adaptation is implemented. It's important to ask the question: what's more important, social appearances, or the well-being of the person who needs the tools?

It can also mean learning new skills that enable the brain to better cope with intrusive stimuli. These solutions are more often proposed and supervised by specialists such as occupational therapists.


In case of distress, or if the solutions put in place don't work, it's imperative to consult someone who specializes in sensory hypersensitivities.

Pour aller plus loin – La prise en charge des troubles visuels sensoriels

Valérie Jessica Laporte