Learn about photokeratitis, the sunburn of the eyes, from our optometrist. Understand causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention strategies.
Amplify EyeCare optometrists have often come across patients who were not aware that the sun could potentially harm their eyes. It's not widely known, but just as your skin can get sunburnt, so too can your eyes, this is especially true for children who are more susceptible to photokeratitis. This condition is called photokeratitis.
According to the World Health Organization, a child will have received 80% of their lifelong UV exposure from the sun by the age of 18. Children are more at risk due to the lack of filtering present in their eye, as well as the increased likelihood of them looking for extended periods of time in the sun. It is important to ensure that your child is wearing UV protection and understands the danger of excessive exposure to the sun.
Photokeratitis is a condition that results from the eyes' overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. In layman's terms, photokeratitis is akin to a sunburn but occurs in the eyes. Some might even call it a snow blindness, as it frequently happens in snowy environments where the UV rays reflect off the white surface and into the eyes. However, this doesn't mean it only happens in the snow. Photokeratitis can occur anywhere as long as the eyes are exposed to intense UV radiation without appropriate protection.
There are several causes that can lead to photokeratitis. The most common cause is, unsurprisingly, exposure to bright sunlight without wearing sunglasses or eyewear with UV protection.
Other photokeratitis causes may include:
Recognizing the symptoms of photokeratitis can help you seek timely treatment and prevent potential permanent damage. Common symptoms include:
If you're experiencing these symptoms and suspect you might have photokeratitis, we advise you to seek immediate attention from our eye care professional.
Photokeratitis treatment primarily involves alleviating the symptoms and allowing the eyes to heal. This often includes:
At Amplify EyeCare, we specialize in diagnosing and treating photokeratitis. If you suspect you may have this condition, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit.
While seeking professional help is crucial, there are some photokeratitis home remedies you can try to alleviate discomfort:
Remember, these remedies only help manage the discomfort and do not replace the need for professional medical intervention.
One of the most common questions we get asked is, "Is photokeratitis permanent?" While it can cause severe discomfort, photokeratitis usually does not cause permanent damage. The cornea usually heals itself within 24 to 48 hours. However, repeated exposure leading to chronic photokeratitis can cause long-term damage and contribute to conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.
Photokeratitis is known by several alternative names, which often refer to the circumstances that typically cause the condition. Some of these include:
Snow Blindness: This term is used due to the common occurrence of photokeratitis in snowy environments, where UV rays reflect off the snow, causing intense exposure to the eyes.
Arc Eye: This term is often used in industrial settings, as it refers to photokeratitis caused by exposure to the intense light produced by welding arcs.
Ultraviolet Keratitis: This name refers directly to the cause of the condition, which is overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) radiation.
Welder's Flash or Welder's Burn: Similar to 'Arc Eye,' these terms are often used in the context of occupational exposure, specifically in welding, where workers may be exposed to high levels of UV light.
Remember, regardless of the term used, all these conditions refer to the same issue: damage to the cornea due to overexposure to UV light.
As an optometry clinic, we have seen first-hand the discomfort and risks that photokeratitis, or 'sunburn of the eyes', can bring. While typically not causing permanent damage, it can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, and repeated exposure can lead to long-term eye health issues.
If you're experiencing symptoms like redness, a gritty feeling in your eyes, sensitivity to light, or excessive tearing, don't delay seeking help. As previously mentioned, reaching out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice is possible through a phone call or an in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is prepared and equipped to provide you with the necessary care you need.