Abstract This review is dedicated to recent developments on the topic of light sensitive polymer-based microcapsules. The microcapsules discussed are constructed using the layer-by-layer self-assembly method, which consists in absorbing oppositely charged polyelectrolytes onto charged sacrificial particles. Microcapsules display a broad spectrum of qualities over other existing microdelivery systems such as high stability, longevity, versatile construction and a variety of methods to encapsulate and release substances. Release and encapsulation of materials by light is a particularly interesting topic. Microcapsules can be made sensitive to light by incorporation of light sensitive polymers, functional dyes and metal nanoparticles. Optically active substances can be inserted into the shell during their assembly as a polymer complex or following the shell preparation. Ultraviolet-addressable microcapsules were shown to allow for remote encapsulation and release of materials. Visible- and infrared- addressable microcapsules offer a large array of release strategies for capsules, from destructive to highly sensitive reversible approaches. Besides the Introduction and Conclusions, this review contains in four sections reviewing the effects of light 1) on polymer-based microcapsules, 2) microcapsules containing metal nanoparticles and 3) functional dyes, as well as a fourth section that revisits the implications of light addressable polymeric microcapsules as a microdelivery system for biological applications.