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;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. Often indicated by a character's holding up his hands to shield his eyes. Truth in Television, as anyone whose eyes have been dilated after staying a time in a dark place 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.
open/close all folders
- 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.
- In the very first issue of ElfQuest, the Wolfriders spend some time traveling through the troll caverns before emerging into daylight once more. In the desert. Doesn't help that they're nocturnal either.
- The Dark Knight Rises. As Bane explains:
Bane : Oh, you think darkness is your ally. You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didnít see the light until I was already a man. By then, it was nothing to me but blinding!
- 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.
- The Chronicles of Riddick: 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 Snow White and the Huntsman, when Snow White is escaping from her prison, she has to shield her eyes for a few minutes.
- In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes has been vegetating in a dark room with the curtains drawn for weeks; Watson comes in and tears the curtains aside to let in the sunlight, eliciting a yell of pain from Holmes.
- Justified in Daybreakers, when Willem Dafoe's vampire character is exposed to the sun.
- In the backstory of Pan's Labyrinth, when the princess left her fairy kingdom to visit the mortal world, the sun blinded her and caused her to forget how to return home.
- In I'm Not Scared, the young Filippo, who has been kept captive underground for an undetermined length of time, experiences this trope when he is visited by another boy from a nearby village and opens his eyes to get a good look at him.
- In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy is obviously suffering from this when Warden Norton opens the door to talk to him after Andy's spent a month in the hole.
- Butch from prison film The Big House is squinting in obvious distress after being released from solitary confinement in "the dungeon".
- In ''It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett need a pilot and find Jim Backus sleeping off a drunk. The room has the blinds drawn and when he gets up he thinks he's blind and staggers to the window. When he opens the blinds, the blinding daylight sends him flying backward, screaming in pain.
- 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 J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It's implied that at least some orcs (though not all) also suffer from this.
- Relg (and most of the Ulgos) have trouble with this during the Belgariad, with a side order of agoraphobia as well. Some of the Ulgos are at least used to nights on the surface, as their work involves "hunting wild game and harvesting wild plants" (their leader suspects they've long since taken up farming and herding in the safest mountain valleys).
- Lori uses this to her advantage in Aunt Dimity: Snowbound. When a chipper Catchpole brings her breakfast in bed (thinking she's ill), Lori plays up the reaction when he opens the curtains in order to make her illness seem real.
- In Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Grey Knights novel The Emperor's Gift, Twenty-Six complains bitterly of the light when ordered to open his eyes; he is told it's the weakest level of illumination, but he has not used his eyes in ninety-nine days.
- In Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, we are introduced to the titular thief's ...ahem...dramatic nature when, at his first glimpse of sunlight after several months in prison, he falls on the ground howling and swearing at the top of his lungs.
- In Sarah A. Hoyt's Darkship Thieves, Thena, after the radiation burns, first thinks her vision has suffered when she removed the goggles. In reality, she's just not seen the light for long. It takes her many blinks to actually see.
- In John C. Wright's Count to the Eschaton, Menelaus coming out of a cryogenic chamber, once.
- This trope is alluded to in the title A Dark-Adapted Eye by Ruth Rendell (under the pen name of Barbara Vine). The story involves a bitter custody battle between two sisters that ends in murder, and is told from the point of view of a surviving niece who, after several years, is finally able to piece together the events that led to her family's tragedy.
- In A Clash of Kings, Catelyn goes to question Jaime Lannister, who's being kept chained up in a dark cell in the bowels of Riverrun. He hangs onto his dignity as well as he can under the circumstances, but has to ask her for a few minutes to get used to the light before he can look at her.
- In the novel Metro 2033, the young Artyom and his friends went to a neighboring uninhabited station and opened a hatch to sneak a brief peek at the sky. It is mentioned that they were lucky that it was night at the time as their eyes were used to only dim, red emergency lights and firelight so daylight would have blinded them. Stalkers, whose job it is to brave the surface in search of supplies, wear tinted goggles.
- In Seanan McGuire's InCryptid novel Discount Armageddon, Verity warns Dominic to close his eyes before she turns on the light, but he's not quick enough.
- In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel An Artificial Night, the Luidaeg tells Toby to close her eyes and immediately turns on the lights. Toby has to get over the after-images.
- In George MacDonald's fairy tale The Day-Boy and the Night-Girl, Nycteris, who has lived her whole life in a cave, is temporarily blinded when she goes outside and sees the Sun for the first time.
- In Andre Norton's Catseye, Troy is blinking after the blindfold is ripped off.
- In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, after the Throg attack traps them in a cave, turning on his light to the lowest level makes Shann's eyes water.
- In William Alexander's Goblin Secrets, Graba has Vess cast a light spell when Rownie is hiding in shadows. It blinds him.
- In the first Circle of Magic book, Sandry has been kept underground for weeks, and someone swings a lantern right in her face. It blinds her for quite a while.
- In the Rivers of London novels, members of the underground community Peter discovers in the third novel have to wear dark wraparound sunglasses even in dimly-lit indoor environments, never mind broad daylight.
- In the Newsflesh universe, people who have a reservoir condition known to most as "retinal Kellis-Amberlee", such as Georgia or Emily, cannot tolerate normal lighting, since their irises will not contract in response. Too much light can damage their eyes severely enough to impair vision. Emily mentions reduced vision sensitivity (she was an early case, and suffered damage before doctors figured out her condition), while Georgia comments on having small blind spots caused by retinal damage. Both spend most of their lives behind sunglasses or in low-light rooms.
- The Fifth Elephant: During an enemy ambush, Vimes lights up a cigar while surrounded by bandits before they're dispatched by him and Assassin/clerk Inigo Skimmer. When Inigo later chides him for this grandstanding, Vimes points out that it boiled down to him turning on a bright light in the darkness.
Live Action TV
- The Visitors in the miniseries V (1983) have to wear sunglasses because they're unaccustomed to bright lights. It later turns out that this is because they're actually humanoid reptilians.
- 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.
- On WKRP in Cincinnati, Venus liked to do his radio show in a darkened studio, lit by candles. Too often, someone would come in and turn on the lights on him, giving him this.
- Dungeons & 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.
- Exalted: The Darkbroods (universally-loathed gods who were driven underground), and Dune People (cannibal, xenophobic human sub-species). Notably, one of the iconic Infernal is a Dune Person.
- Speaking of the Infernals: if they want to learn the more powerful Ebon Dragon charms they can't avoid this trope, because one of the Dragon's foundational charm give them this weakness. They are only hurt by Creation's Sun though; any other suns are fine.
- Varanae generic RPG supplement Monstrum 1. Albino Apes can't see in daylight and are driven off by intense light because of the centuries they have spent living underground.
- Several species in Pathfinder have this problem, most prominent amongst them are orcs (though it's possible for them to overcome it).
- Onu-Matoran from BIONICLE are used to living underground so the light stings their eyes a little bit.
- 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.
- Averted in the opening cinematic for Fallout 2, in which the instructional film explicitly (and humorously) demonstrates this trope to the Vault Dwellers and highlights the need for protective eye wear; and the Vault door opened rather sensibly at night time.
- 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.)
- The dwarves of Dwarf Fortress will get unhappy thoughts about being "irritated by the sun" if they've been underground too long. If they've been underground even longer, they'll get unhappy thoughts about being "nauseated by the sun" and puke all over the entrance to your fortress.
- Which may become a problem when you spend years training a military squad in your underground barracks, and when your legendary overpowered steel-clad warriors finally get to the surface to battle a goblin siege they are blinded by the brightness and collapse to the ground, vomiting violently and unable to fight. It's important to either move all your activity underground or make your dwarves spend at least part of their time above the surface, to prevent complete cave adaptation. Like everything in Dwarf Fortress, this can quickly become a problem as well.
- This is probably why Mega Man 4's Pharaoh Man is affected by the Flash Stopper. As he's supposed to emulate long-dead Pharaohs and explore dark pyramids, it could be similarly deduced that he's designed for dark environments and freezes when exposed to bright flashes.
- Trauma Center's CR-S01 experiences this trope after being released from his cell for the first time in years.
- In Sinfest, Crimney's reaction to stepping away from his towers of books.
AAGH!! My eyes! The excess light is causing my pupil to contract, thereby limiting in the influx of light.
- In Our Little Adventure Angelika gets it emerging from the cave, and overdramatizes it.
- In Bob and George, Shadow Man plays with this by asking whether his eyes are adjusted, and turning on the lights.
- In Monsieur Charlatan, Isidore feigns this when Magda opens the curtains.
- In The Specialists, Hartmann has to shield his eyes as the cell door is opened.
- In User Friendly, this is an expected consequence of coming in to work at the crack of dawn and normally leaving after sunset. Poor AJ.
- In Red's Planet, when Red approaches the break in the downed spaceship, and more so when she's hauled out into day.
- In El Goonish Shive, when Pandora makes a surprise appearance in Sarah's bedroom in the middle of the night, accompanied by a flash of light, Sarah does not react to the sudden appearance of a powerful immortal, but instead complains about the light hurting her eyes.
- Played for Laughs in the Dexter's Laboratory episode "D&DD"; Mom enters the room where Dexter and his friends are playing Mazes and Monsters, says "Gracious! It's as dark as a dungeon in here!", and opens the blinds. Dex recoils, shielding his eyes and hissing like a vampire.
- Happens to Marceline from Adventure Time. Well, she is a vampire...
- Often averted in real life, although animals such as owls and cats have eyes that are optimized for night-time vision, they are not harmed by sunlight and can see perfectly well during the day.
- Photophobia is a medical condition that causes people to feel pain or discomfort when in bright or even moderate light (if it's severe enough). It's medically as close to this trope as you'll get.
- 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.
- Anyone who's ever been woken up by someone switching on the light can attest to this.
- Also applies to turning on your computer right after you wake up.