Eye wellness

Sun damage to eyes: symptoms and treatment

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Did you know that your eyes can get sunburned just like any other part of your body? Eye damage from sun overexposure is called photokeratitis. Photokeratitis is a painful but temporary eye condition brought on by overexposure to UV light, causing your corneas to become inflamed.

This condition is common for those who practice sun gazing (a meditation practice of looking directly into the sun) or do water and winter sports. This is because the light and radiation are reflected off water, snow, and ice, intensifying your eyes’ exposure to UV radiation.

Can your eyes get sunburned?

Yes, eye sun damage can be as painful as a skin sunburn. Photokeratitis affects the corneas of your eyes. UV radiation exposure can temporarily damage your cornea and conjunctiva (a layer of tissue covering the inside of your eyelid and the whites of your eye).

Sun spots on eyes: what are they?

Eye sunspots, also called eye freckles or surfer’s eye can develop from several factors, including genetic predisposition. The spots are a build-up in melanin-producing cells called melanocytes. This can happen from overexposure to UV rays, and while they are removable, it’s not necessary. You can discuss it with your eye doctor during your regular checkup.

Sunburnt eyes what are the symptoms

Sun eye damage symptoms will likely include momentary loss of vision or the “halo effect”, where your eyes become very sensitive to light. It can cause headaches, not to mention photokeratitis. Similar to sunburn, the severity of your symptoms can vary depending on your exposure to UV radiation.

How do you know if the sun has damaged your eyes?

If you start to feel any symptoms, go inside right once. Remain in a dimly lit space. If you wear contacts, take them out and avoid rubbing your eyes.

Below are the signs and symptoms you might experience if you have UV damage to your eyes:

  • redness or discomfort in the eyes
  • wet or teary eyes
  • fuzzy vision
  • swelling
  • sensitivity to light
  • eyelids that are twitching
  • feeling of grit in the eyes
  • visual loss that is momentary
  • observing halo effects
  • headaches
  • temporary loss of vision (rare)
  • your vision varies in color (rare)

Though they could linger anywhere from six to 24 hours, these symptoms typically go away within 48 hours.

Photokeratitis typically goes away on its own. Therefore, treatment for this ailment is focused on addressing the symptoms to make you feel more comfortable. Your doctor can provide painkillers or antibiotic eye treatments if your diagnosis is sunburned eyes.

Is sun damage on eyes permanent?

Your eyes can heal from sun damage. Depending on the severity of the problem, it may take a few days for your eyes to heal.

Your chance of getting a cataract or macular degeneration increases if you are exposed to UV rays for an extended period, even in small doses. Over time, UV exposure accumulates. Tissue elevations on the surface of your eye are another side effect of prolonged UV exposure. These are referred to as pterygia and pinguecula. Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection whenever you are outdoors to help protect your eyes.

Contact your eye doctor straight away if you believe you have an eye illness or another serious eye condition.