Sunburned Eyes (Photokeratitis)

One of the reasons that you’re encouraged to wear protective eyewear when you’re in the sun or a tanning bed — or when you work with flames or welding equipment — is that you can develop a condition called photokeratitis. Better known as sunburned eyes, it can be a painful situation that requires immediate care by photokeratitis doctors. Find these specialists at Eye Physicians in Downtown Manhattan. They provide the most effective photokeratitis treatment and know how to treat sunburned eyes appropriately, so you don’t suffer any long-term vision loss. Call today for a consultation.

What Is Photokeratitis?

Photokeratitis is the technical term for sunburned eyes, which happens when your eyes are exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or other sources. Photokeratitis can cause temporary but painful symptoms such as:

  • Eye redness
  • Swelling
  • Tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Feeling of having sand in the eyes

If you’re suffering from sunburned eyes or any other eye problems, you need medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further complications. At Eye Physicians in New York, you find a team of experienced optometrists and qualified photokeratitis doctors who treat sunburned eyes and other eye conditions using the latest eye medical technology. They offer personalized treatment and comprehensive eye care to fit the severity of your condition and restore your visual function to the full extent possible.

Sunburned Eyes (Photokeratitis)

What Causes Sunburned Eyes?

Photokeratitis is caused by overexposure to UV rays, which can damage the outer layer of the cornea and the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye. UV rays can come from various sources, such as the sun and artificial sources, such as welding arcs, tanning beds, lasers and lamps.

When UV light reaches the eye, it can lead to inflammation, swelling and pain in the cornea and the conjunctiva. This can affect your vision and make the eyes feel gritty, watery and sensitive to light. Some people are more prone to developing photokeratitis than others. The risk factors for photokeratitis include having:

  • Light-colored eyes, such as blue, green or gray, which have less pigment to protect them from UV rays
  • Fair skin, which burns easily and has less melanin to filter out ultraviolet rays
  • A history of eye diseases or surgeries, such as cataracts, glaucoma or LASIK, which can affect the eye’s ability to heal from UV damage

What Are the Dangers of Photokeratitis?

Photokeratitis can cause a range of symptoms that affect the eyes and your vision. The symptoms vary depending on the severity and duration of exposure to UV rays. The symptoms of photokeratitis usually appear after a delay of six to 12 hours following exposure to UV rays, and they can last from six to 24 hours. In most cases, the symptoms are temporary and are resolved within about 48 hours without additional sunburn eyes treatment.

However, some people may experience longer lasting or more severe symptoms, such as corneal ulcer, infection, scarring or permanent vision damage. And if left untreated, severe photokeratitis can lead to long-term complications such as cataracts, macular degeneration and eyelid cancer. In addition to the immediate common symptoms mentioned above, other signs of sunburned eyes include:

  • A burning sensation
  • Temporary vision loss
  • Light sensitivity or photophobia
  • Headache or eye strain
  • Difficulty opening or closing the eyes
  • Eye discharge or crustiness

Rely on the experience and training of photokeratitis doctors who can properly diagnose sunburned eyes as well. The symptoms often closely mimic other conditions that may require a different set of tests or treatment to restore your vision properly. Conditions that resemble sunburned eyes or share may of the same symptoms include:

What Are the Consequences of Untreated Photokeratitis?

Photokeratitis is a temporary condition that usually dissipates within a few days. However, if you don’t seek medical attention or protect your eyes from further UV exposure, you may experience some serious complications.

You could develop a corneal ulcer, which is an open sore on the cornea that can cause severe pain, infection, scarring and vision loss. Other consequences of untreated photokeratitis include:

  • Corneal infection, an inflammation of the cornea caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. It can result in symptoms such as discharge, redness, swelling and blurred vision.
  • Corneal scarring, which involves permanent damage to the cornea that can impair the clarity and smoothness of the cornea. It can cause symptoms such as glare, halos, distortion and reduced vision.
  • Permanent vision damage. Repeated or prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause irreversible damage to the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. This can lead to conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and blindness.

What’s the Most Effective Sunburn Eyes Treatment?

After a thorough examination of your eyes to assess the extent of the damage, your photokeratitis doctors offer several treatment methods to help you recover from photokeratitis and relieve your symptoms, including:

  • Medications. Your eye doctor may prescribe photokeratitis treatment eye drops to treat photokeratitis. They also may recommend antibiotic eye drops to prevent or treat infection, steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation and speed up healing, or cycloplegic eye drops to relax the eye muscles and relieve spasms.
  • Eye patching. Your eye doctor may apply an eye patch to protect your eyes from light and dust to promote healing. This is mostly used when the sunburn affects one eye more than the other. Patching may be used on one eye at a time, while you may be encouraged to cover both eyes at night or when you’re resting.
  • Emergency eye care. When you know you’ve been exposed for an extended period of time and the eye pain is severe, call your Manhattan photokeratitis doctors for immediate treatment. They may advise you to go to the emergency room at a nearby hospital or meet them at the NYC office.

Eye Physicians in New York know how to treat sunburned eyes best. This leading eye clinic offers comprehensive eye care services, including diagnosis and treatment of photokeratitis and other eye conditions for you and your family. Adult eye specialists and pediatric eye doctors Optometrist offer treatment for conditions such as:

Find relief and sunburn eyes treatment at Eye Physicians in New York, where they offer comprehensive eye care services. Don’t underestimate the disruption photokeratitis can have on your life. Contact Eye Physicians today to schedule an appointment with one of their top photokeratitis doctors.

Page Updated on May 27, 2024 by Dr. William Hogue, OD (Optometrist) of Eye Physicians
William Hogue, OD

My name is Dr. William Hogue, and I am an optometrist dedicated to providing top-quality professional eye care. I'm trained in treating various ocular conditions, including dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, and retinal issues.

I earned my chemistry degree summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee. Subsequently, I obtained my Doctorate of Optometry (OD) and Master of Science (MS) from the New England College of Optometry. Following graduation, I completed an ocular disease residency at the State University of New York’s College of Optometry. Beyond my clinical work, I have also been a supporter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH).

More about Dr. Hogue

Eye Physicians
110 Lafayette St, Suite 503
New York, NY 10013
(212) 292-4814

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