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At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows;
Plato, The Republic, describing the Platonic Cave

Any character, human, human-like or monster, that's used to living in dark conditions will find it physically painful to adjust to the bright light of day—a process that may take weeks. This is usually not a warning of his character, even if Light Is Good.

May produce Blinded by the Light in quite normal lighting, when other characters are just fine, but it can also allow good sight that is merely painful. A mundane equivalent to Weakened by the Light. Sunglasses may help during the transition.

Truth in Television, as anyone whose eyes have been dilated in an eye exam can testify.

Compare First Time in the Sun. Overlap is frequent, and this trope is frequently strongest then, but for this trope, it does not have to be the first time, and the sun doesn't have inspire hope.

Note that any situation where the eyes can not adjust (back) to daylight is Weakened by the Light.

Examples of Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes include:

Comic Books

  • All-Star Western (2011) #4 has a boy who's been missing and is now extremely sensitive to light; this with other clues shows that he's been kept underground for a long time.


  • The Matrix. Neo has spent his whole life up to this point inside the Matrix, which meant that he was sealed inside a tube. Morpheus' crew releases him into the real world.

 Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?

Morpheus: You've never used them before.

  • The vampires in The Breed were this way. They wore sunglasses during the day and in their world, it was the eye sensitivity that gave way to the idea of vampires being allergic to sunlight.
  • Richard B. Riddick suffered from this as a side effect of his eyes having been modified to let him see in the dark. He normally wears welding goggles to compensate.
  • Elwood suffers this when he finally takes his sunglasses off in Blues Brothers 2000.


  • In Plato's The Republic, in describing how someone forcibly made to stand would find the direct light painful, and then forcibly brought outside would find the lights painful, having to adjust first to nighttime, then to day.
  • Gollum in JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
  • Relg (and the rest of the Ulgos) have trouble with this during the Belgariad, with a side order of agoraphobia as well.

Live Action TV

  • The Visitors in the miniseries V.
  • Forever Knight had a version with a person who was fed on by a vampire, but survived and ended up becoming like the classic dhampyr almost, human but with enhanced senses and usually they ended up as vampire hunters. 'Bad Blood' was the episode.
  • In an episode of Psych, Shawn invoked this for dramatic/silly effect while coming out of a bank he had been in for a few hours.

Tabletop RPG

  • Dungeons and Dragons. Drow spend almost all of their lives underground. When in daylight, they suffer penalties to their chance to hit opponents.
    • In 3rd Edition, Kuo-Toa and Sahuagin (who live underground and deep underwater, respectively) also had this trait.


  • Onu-Matoran from Bionicle are used to living underground so the light stings their eyes a little bit.

Video Games

  • In Fallout 3, your character seems to be affected by this for a few seconds. Afterward, he recovers, adjusts and sees in daylight with no ill effects.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 (based on Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e) gives Drow and Gray Dwarves Light Sensitivity - a penalty to rolls when in broad daylight. Both are Underdark-dwelling races. Averted in the case of Deep Gnomes, which do not suffer the same penalty despite being native to the Underdark. (Oddly enough, Gray Orcs receive a similar (but lesser) penalty despite living on the surface.)

Web Comics


 AAGH!! My eyes! The excess light is causing my pupil to contract, thereby limiting in the influx of light.


Real Life

  • In 2010, when the 33 trapped Chilean miners were rescued, they had to put on sunglasses before reaching the surface and wear them for a while afterwards since their eyes had gotten so used to the darkness there was a risk of permanent injury if they were exposed to too much light at first.