Sun Damage & Your Eyes

Your eyes are one of the most paramount parts of your body. They are incredibly susceptible to irritation or damage so taking care of them and protecting them from the elements like sun, dirt or any other potential dangers is incredibly important. The sun in particular can be a dangerous opponent when it come to eye health and integrity. Photokeratitis is a corneal sunburn and you don’t have to be in the sun all day to experience this temporary eye damage from the sun’s reflection. The cornea is the area that shields the pupil, while the conjunctiva is the layer that covers the eyelids. Eye exposure to the sun’s UV rays causes photokeratitis. This is not the same as physically being out in the sun. How much UV light your eyes take in is what will dictate symptoms. Regardless of the season, photokeratitis can affect adults and children alike.

There are two ways UV light can enter eyes. First is by directly staring at the sun without eye protection like sunglasses and the second is when the sun’s rays are reflected off snow or ice and into eyes. Some photokeratitis symptoms can be similar to bodily sunburn symptoms as they are both burns from the sun’s UV rays.

Sensitivity to Light: If you are experiencing pain when you look at light, this is a common symptom of photokeratitis.

Discomfort: Your eyes may become itchy, bloodshot or puffy and it may feel as if you have something in your eye that won’t come out. It is advised to refrain from rubbing your eyes as this may actually make matters worse. Laying a wet towel that is not hot or cold can also help to soothe the burn.

Halos: When you see rings of light around bright objects, these are halos. This is common with a corneal sunburn and should pass in time.

Tears: Tear flow is also known to possibly increase with an eye sunburn. If you wear eye makeup, it is best to refrain from doing so if possible to help lessen this symptom.

If any of the above symptoms persist or worsen for longer than a week, a visit to the doctor may be necessary. Eyes damaged by sun rays can lead to more severe issues like cataract, pterygium, macular degeneration, pinguecula and cancer. To avoid these conditions, it is recommended to wear sunglasses when going out, especially when outdoors and in the sun. Eyewear that guard against 99% of UVA and UVB rays is optimal. Polarized lenses which deal with the reflection of the sun rays, can also help reduce any damage to the eyes.

For tips or a consultation about sun damage or protection and to schedule an appointment contact us today at 561-798-0244.

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