Why do eyes physically hurt when suddenly exposed to light?

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Your eyes will dilate the pupils (the dark parts of the eye) when in low light. That’s because the pupil needs to be larger to catch more light to see. When you suddenly go outside or have a light shone in your face, that’s too much light, enough to potentially cause damage. So you feel a pain sensation in your eyes, until your pupils can close enough to make the amount of light manageable.