What causes halos around lights and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Have you ever noticed a halo around lights, especially at night? This phenomenon, known as halos around lights, can be quite distracting and even concerning for some individuals. In this article, we will explore the causes of halos around lights and discuss various ways to treat and reduce them.

Understanding Halos Around Lights

Halos around lights refer to the optical phenomenon where a bright light source appears surrounded by a ring or circle of light. These halos can vary in size and intensity, and they are most commonly observed around streetlights, headlights, or other bright sources of light.

Causes of Halos Around Lights

There are several factors that contribute to the formation of halos around lights:

  • Refractive Errors: One of the primary causes of halos around lights is refractive errors in the eye, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. These errors can cause light to scatter and create halos.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, can also lead to the formation of halos around lights. As the cataract progresses, it can scatter light and cause visual disturbances.
  • Corneal Irregularities: Irregularities in the cornea, such as dryness, scars, or infections, can cause light to scatter and produce halos.
  • Eye Surgery: Certain eye surgeries, such as LASIK or cataract surgery, can temporarily cause halos around lights as the eyes heal and adjust to the changes.
  • Environmental Factors: Atmospheric conditions, such as fog, rain, or smog, can also contribute to the formation of halos around lights. These particles in the air scatter light and create the halo effect.

How to Reduce Halos Around Lights

If you are experiencing halos around lights and find them bothersome, there are several steps you can take to reduce their intensity:

1. Corrective Lenses

If you have a refractive error, wearing corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses, can help minimize the scattering of light and reduce the appearance of halos.

2. Cataract Surgery

If cataracts are the underlying cause of your halos, cataract surgery may be recommended. During this procedure, the cloudy lens is replaced with an artificial one, improving vision and reducing halos.

3. Lubricating Eye Drops

If dryness or corneal irregularities are causing halos, using lubricating eye drops can help alleviate symptoms. These drops provide moisture to the eyes and reduce the scattering of light.

4. Avoiding Eye Strain

Eye strain can exacerbate the appearance of halos around lights. To reduce strain, ensure proper lighting when reading or using electronic devices, take regular breaks, and practice good eye hygiene.

5. Managing Environmental Factors

While you cannot control atmospheric conditions, you can take precautions to minimize the impact of environmental factors on halos. For example, driving slowly and cautiously in foggy conditions can help reduce the distraction caused by halos around streetlights.

Seeking Professional Help

If halos around lights persist or worsen despite these measures, it is essential to consult an eye care professional. They can evaluate your specific situation, identify any underlying conditions, and recommend appropriate treatment options.


Halos around lights can be a common visual phenomenon caused by various factors, including refractive errors, cataracts, corneal irregularities, eye surgeries, and environmental conditions. While some causes may require medical intervention, others can be managed through corrective lenses, lubricating eye drops, and lifestyle adjustments. If you are experiencing persistent or worsening halos, it is crucial to seek professional help to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. By addressing the underlying causes, you can reduce the appearance of halos and improve your overall visual comfort.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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