It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Dr. Rahul Reddy. Click here to read more about Dr. Reddy

Are My Eyes Sun-Damaged?

We typically think of sun exposure in the way that it affects the skin, both for Vitamin D benefits but also the risk of skin cancer. But what about the impact sun exposure has on the eyes? If you have ever wondered if your eyes can get sunburned in the same way as your skin, the answer is yes. Exposure to UV rays can cause inflammation within the eye, specifically to the corneas. How do I know if UV light has hurt my eyes, are my eyes sun-damaged?

Extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays may lead to damage of the eyes. Any extended amount of time with your eyes focused on UV light sources, including being outdoors in the sunshine, may put you at risk for certain eye conditions that include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, photokeratitis, pterygium and more. Minor trauma to the eyes is often treatable but reversing sun damage done to eyes is a little more complicated and not always easily improved or curable with medical care. 

If your eyes are sun-damaged due to the reflection of the sun in any outdoor environment including the beach or snow, your eyes will revive within a few days and will likely not suffer any long-term damage. Corneal sunburns, also known as photokeratitis, are a painful yet temporary eye condition affecting your cornea that same way your skin would be affected with a sunburn. Eye symptoms to be aware of include pain or extra sensitivity to light, the feeling of something in the eye, twitching of the eyes, inflammation of the eye, seeing rings of light, swelling or watery eyes. On the other hand, prolonged staring at the sun or looking at a solar eclipse can cause indefinite and irreversible damage. While many types of photokeratitis are temporary, this form may affect your vision long-term. 

Reversing sun damage will depend on the exposure time and symptoms. If you are concerned your eyes have been sun-damaged, your best choices are to allow your eyes time to rejuvenate with cold compresses and artificial tears. If you cannot find relief with these options, it is best to consult your eye doctor. To prevent sun damage to your eyes, consider the following: wear suitable eye protection that blocks 99-100% of UV rays, wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors, and schedule a yearly eye exam at Associated Retina Consultants to monitor your eye health and to diagnose, treat, or manage any eye conditions including sun-damaged eyes. 

Call Associated Retina Consultants for the next available appointment at 602-242-4928 or schedule online at WEBSITE.  

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