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Can eyes get sunburned?

Photokeratitis, or sunburned eyes, can result from direct exposure to UV rays or reflected sunlight. Here's what you need to know about this painful condition:


Causes:

- Direct exposure to UV rays

- Reflection of sunlight off surfaces like snow, ice, sand, water, and even buildings or cars

- Lack of proper eye protection during welding or tanning bed use


Symptoms:

- Redness, pain, swelling, headaches

- Tearing, blurred vision, eyelid twitching

- Sensitivity to light, gritty feeling in the eyes


Treatment:

- Get out of the sun and into a dark room

- Wear sunglasses and use a cool, damp washcloth to soothe irritation

- Take over-the-counter pain relievers and use eye drops to keep eyes moist

- Avoid rubbing or scratching the eyes, wearing contact lenses, applying makeup, or getting water in the eyes


Prevention:

- Invest in sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays

- Wear protective eyewear even on overcast days

- Seek shade and wear a wide-brimmed hat outdoors



Although photokeratitis typically resolves within a few days, prolonged UV exposure can lead to more severe eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. Protecting your eyes from UV rays is essential for long-term eye health.

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