A flash burn is basically the same as getting a sunburn, but it is on your eyes rather than your skin. It occurs after prolonged exposure to the sun or other intense light source. The UV rays from sunlight or bright light can damage the cornea, the front part of your eyes.

What are the causes of corneal flash burns?

There are various different ways you can get these flash burns,

  • They can occur when the sun is reflecting off of water or snow.
  • Staring at the solar eclipse without the proper eye protection
  • Photographer’s flood lamps
  • Welding torches
  • Nearby lightning strike
  • Halogen lamps
  • Sun lamps that are typically seen in tanning salons

What are some of the symptoms of flash burns?

Typically symptoms of flash burns include:

  • It can cause a lot of pain.
  • It can make your eyes very red and look bloodshot.
  • It can cause a very gritty sensation, a lot of tearing in your eyes.
  • It can cause blurry vision.
  • It can cause sensitivity to light

Within three to twelve hours of ultraviolet exposure, patients may begin exhibiting symptoms. If the flash burn happened at the workplace, ensure your management is informed so that any further damage can be avoided. You should also get an eye examination immediately.

How are flash burns treated?

An eye doctor typically prescribes antibiotic eye drops and copious amounts of artificial tears to lubricate the eyes. Since sensitivity to light is one of the symptoms, it's important to wear sunglasses and to protect your eyes. Typically, it will resolve after a few days, but it's really important to get treatment right away so there aren't any scars that can hamper your vision.

Additionally, it is very important to prevent any flash burns from happening because depending on their severity, they may affect not only the front, but even the back of your eye and really affect your vision. You should wear your ski goggles when engaging in activities such as skiing, and purpose specific protective eyewear when engaged in high risk activities such as welding.

Generally, the cornea can heal itself and leaves no scars behind. Healing takes a couple of days if the recommendations of the eye doctor are followed. In many cases, the eye doctor will want you to come back within a few days so that they can check that the cornea is healing properly.

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