Each time you laze in the sun without eye protection, you’re putting yourself at risk for a condition referred to as photokeratitis. Commonly known as “sunburned eyes,” photokeratitis causes damage to the clear portion of your eye (cornea) and the clear tissue that covers the white part of your eye and the inside of your eyelid (conjunctiva), causing pain, redness, temporary loss of vision, tearing, among other symptoms.
While these usually go away on their own within a few hours to a couple of days, chronic exposure to the sun’s UV light puts you at a greater risk for a serious eye condition, such as a cataract or macular degeneration.
If you’re concerned that you may have suffered an eye sunburn, your best bet is to visit your ophthalmologist to ensure there isn’t any permanent damage to your eye. Below, you’ll learn about how your eye doctor can diagnose and help you prevent photokeratitis as well as the serious conditions that can accompany it.
Diagnosing and Treating Eye Sunburn
Your eye doctor will ask you questions about your lifestyle and recent activities and carry out a thorough examination of your eyes. Your doctor may do a fluorescein eye stain test to detect or assess the damage to your cornea. During the test, your doctor blots the surface of each of your eyes with a sheet containing an orange dye (fluorescein). You are then asked to blink a few times. Your doctor then shines a blue light to check for foreign bodies in each eye and identify any superficial irregularities on the surface of your cornea.
Your doctor will likely advise that you avoid wearing your contact lenses and rest in a dark room for a few days to allow your eyes to recover.
If your eye doctor deems medical treatment necessary, they may just prescribe eye drops to prevent infection. Make sure to let your eye doctor know if you experience eye pain or loss of vision for more than two days.
Preventing Eye Sunburn
To help you protect your eyes from further sun damage and its serious complications, your eye doctor will likely recommend some self-care strategies, such as the following:
- Wearing sunglasses all year round – When buying sunglasses, make sure they block 99-100% of UVA and UVB light.
- Wearing suitable, protective eyewear to block out UV radiation (e.g., snow goggles when skiing, etc.)
- Wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat when going to the beach, especially during the summer months
Trusted Eye Doctors in Miami, Florida
At The Laser Center of Coral Gables, our eye doctors are best known for their expertise, compassionate approach to care and commitment that goes beyond ensuring the best treatment outcomes. As proponents of preventive care, our eye doctors delight in encouraging patients to get routine eye exams and providing useful information to empower them to take better care of their eyes.
To find out more about our services or to schedule a consultation with one of our eye doctors, call us today at (305) 461-0003. You can also contact us using our convenient contact form.