It may surprise you, but the short answer would be yes . Your eyes can get sunburn and I learned it the hard way . A month ago my wife and I visited the Caribbean island of Antigua for a vacation . On the last week of our visit we took a boat cruise in the Caribbean sea around the island . That day before we left the hotel I rubbed on my sunscreen got my hat and sunglasses and we were off . As we approached a sea stack I decide to take off my sunglasses to get a better natural view and take a few pictures .The e sun was not shining that bright because of an overcast by some rain clouds. We spend about 2 and half hours on the water and I got some nice shots . When we returned to the hotel as I was taking a shower then suddenly my right eyes started to burn it felt really gritty inside. To make a long story short I visited the hospital that night and the doctor told me my eyes were sunburnt . My response was I didn’t know your eyes can get sunburn especially in a day when there wasn’t much sun out. This was totally news to me. The doctors explained that we don’t need a lot of sunlight to get sunburn eyes as long as a lot of UV rays get into our eye we can be affected .
While most people think of skin when they talk of sunburns, harmful ultraviolet rays can impact far more than just the shoulders, neck, or legs when you are at the pool. These rays are capable of causing extensive damage to your eyes, leading to a condition known as “photokeratitis,” or simply “eye sunburn.”
What are the causes of eye sunburn?
When ultraviolet rays bounce off a surface (such as pavement , snow or water) and into your eyes, the cells on the eyeball shed and then die. Although the whites of the eyes can be damaged by exposure from too much sun, the cornea—the clear layer of tissue located in front of the eyeball—is where ultraviolet rays typically cause the most trouble. However, sunlight isn’t the only thing that can give your eyes sunburn; the cornea is sensitive to other types of ultraviolet light as well, such as a welder’s arc and even photography flood lamps.
Whats happens when your eyes get sunburns ?
The first lens we are born with on front surface of our eye called the cornea is responsible for clear vision . This lens has a clear skin on it when this skin get excess sun UV radiation it causes inflammation of the cornea this inflammation is called keratitis this causes the cornea to lose cells similarly as when you burn your skin and it start to peel the same thing is happen to your front surface of your eye . The cornea has a lot of nerve vessel which cause the eyes to burn and become red. The sun also causes the smooth surface of the cornea to become bumpy and uneven so you cannot see out of the cornea so you become temporarily blind .
What are the symptoms?
Sunburned eyeballs are not simply an annoying occurrence that can take place over a series of days. If left unchecked or untreated, they are dangerous and can lead to grievous medical conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration. Symptoms of eye sunburn will be painful, and include excessive light sensitivity, tearing up, swelling, and blurry vision. The eye can also appear bloodshot and feel gritty.
How to treat eye sunburn ?
Though most eye sunburns that people experience are able to heal within a few days, they could develop into more serious concerns. If you are infected as a result of the sunburn, the corneas will scar over and become opaque, permanently impacting your vision. The first thing you should do if you suspect that your eye sunburn has worsened is consult an ophthalmologist. They might need to give you antibiotic eye drops in order to treat the infection and enable you to prevent further or long-lasting damage.The same way we need to lubricate the skin for sunburn we need a lot of lubricant to help your eyes heal . The doctor may also give you a dilation drops to open the pupil very wide so it can decrease the spasms in the iris to reduce pain . This is done for a period of time until the cornea is healed . The cornea typically heal in 12 to 48 hours .
How to prevent eye sunburn ?
Sunburned eyes are relatively easy to prevent, so if you think that you are going to be exposed to ultraviolet rays frequently and for hours at a time, take a few simple precautions beforehand. You can start with a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face. Go further by coupling it with a pair of sunglasses, preferably ones with hardcore UV-blocking lenses which are polarized . Think of frame size as well. Larger frames will be more protective, blocking rays from filtering over the top or sides of your glasses.
Keep in mind that as long as there’s ultraviolet rays, there’s the risk of eye sunburn. Whether you’re skiing, strolling through autumn leaves, or just sitting on your porch in spring, never forget that eye protection is crucial for long-term health and vision clarity. Our eyes have to last our whole lives; we shouldn’t take them for granted. It’s important to care for and protect them to the best of our abilities all year round!