Photokeratitis Causes, Symptoms and Relief

Photokeratitis is a painful yet temporary eye condition that causes damage to the cornea from unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays, most commonly from the sun. Also known as ultraviolet keratitis, photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn on the eyes instead of the skin. Risk factors for photokeratitis include spending a lot of time outdoors in the sun including activities where the sun may reflect off the ground and into the eyes such as the water, ice, sand or snow. Those who live in higher altitude climates or in exceptionally sunny places may be at risk for greater exposure. Those who spend time in man-made light such as tanning beds, sunlamps or even welders who can experience what is called “flash burn” may develop photokeratitis. Wearing eye protection that prevents UVA and UVB damage is important for the health and safety of the eyes. 

Like a sunburn, the damage caused by photokeratitis often goes unnoticed until after the damage has been done. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurriness, tearing, gritty feeling in the eye, swelling, sensitivity to bright light, headache, seeing halos, small pupils, eyelid twitching, and in rare instances, temporary vision loss or color changes in vision. Photokeratitis usually goes away on its own with simple remedies that include removing contact lenses if you wear them, using artificial tear drops, placing a cold compress or washcloth over closed eyes, taking over the counter pain relievers, and using prescribed eye-drop antibiotics if recommended by your ophthalmologist. 

If you experience any symptoms of photokeratitis, and the symptoms do not go away after 48 hours, seek diagnosis and treatment from your eye doctor. Your doctor may suggest a test that includes placing drops of a dye called fluorescein into your eyes to help reveal any irregularities on the surface of the cornea. Long term UV exposure can increase your risk of cataract development or macular degeneration. Take caution to preserve your eyesight by wearing sunglasses or goggles that block 99% of ultraviolet rays.

For more information regarding photokeratitis and other eye conditions, visit our website at WEBSITE. To meet with an eye doctor to discuss any symptoms or concerns you may have for your vision, schedule an appointment with Retina Consultants of Nevada by calling Las Vegas.