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Your Eyes Can Get Sunburned, Too

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girl rubbing her eye

When people talk about sun protection, many assume that it is only for the skin. Little do they know that the eyes are also at risk of getting sunburned.

Sunburned eyes are otherwise known as photokeratitis. This is a painful eye condition that commonly happens when a person’s eyes get exposed to the UV rays. Although UV rays are the most common cause of photokeratitis, a person can also get this condition from the sun’s reflection on sand, ice, water, or snow.

Symptoms of photokeratitis

The symptoms of photokeratitis, as well as their severity, can vary from person to person. But most often, they will experience pain or a burning sensation if they have sunburned eyes. They will also experience blurriness in vision, swelling, tearing, headache, eyelid twitching, as well as light sensitivity.

Their eyes also often become red and appear swollen because of the inflammation caused by the condition. They also feel a sensation in their eye as if there is something stuck that they cannot get out. Other symptoms include temporary loss of vision and seeing images of halos.

Diagnosing photokeratitis

A doctor will ask a series of questions about your recent activities, which can cause photokeratitis. They will also perform an eye examination to see if you are suffering from any signs of the said condition. Then, an eye drop with fluorescein dye will be used to check your eyes for any ultraviolet ray damage.

girl dropping solution into her eyes

Proper treatment for photokeratitis

The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that photokeratitis commonly goes away without any need for further treatment. So, the standard procedure that most doctors advise patients is to focus on things that will make you feel better as you heal.

You need to remove your contact lenses immediately if you are wearing one. Next, get out of the direct sun’s heat and go to something shady. A dark room would be better. Doing so will also protect you from the sun’s effects on your skin. While skin cancer treatment is available in Salem, it is still best to protect your skin from the UV rays.

If you still feel some pain in your eyes, then you can place a cold washcloth over them. You can also use artificial tears to lubricate your eyes. If none of these works, consider taking pain relievers recommended by your doctor. Your doctor can also recommend the use of eye drop antibiotics.

As much as possible, avoid rubbing your eyes, too. Any contact with your sunburned eyes will disrupt the healing process. The signs of photokeratitis usually go away gradually within 24 to 48 hours. So, try to follow the instructions until you feel and see any progress.

Like your skin, your eyes also need protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. So, wear sunglasses, especially when it is hot. It is best to purchase quality sunglasses so that you can get the right level of protection that you need. Sticking with cheap sunglasses may cost you a lot more in the long run.

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