Summer Sun, Sore Eyes Understanding Photokeratitis with Arlo Wolf

Ever felt that agonizing burning sensation in your eyes after a beach day spent squinting without sunglasses? Chances are, you’ve experienced photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness or ultraviolet keratitis.

Arlo Wolf, a leading provider of eye care and stylish eyewear, sheds light (pun intended) on this condition in their informative blog. Here, we delve deeper into photokeratitis, exploring its causes, symptoms, treatment options, and most importantly, how to prevent it from turning your sunny adventures sour.

What is Photokeratitis?

Think of photokeratitis as a sunburn for your eyes. The cornea, the transparent dome at the front of your eye responsible for focusing light and protecting your inner eye, gets inflamed by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. While less common than sunburn on your skin, photokeratitis can be quite painful and significantly impair your vision. Thankfully, with proper care, it’s usually a temporary condition that resolves within a few days.

Causes of Photokeratitis: Beyond the Beach

While spending extended periods outdoors without sunglasses is a major culprit, especially at high altitudes or near reflective surfaces like snow or water, UV rays are sneaky. Here’s a wider look at how you can get photokeratitis:

Artificial UV Sources: Overusing sunlamps or tanning beds can also damage the cornea.

Welding Activities: Intense UV light from welding or arc welding requires proper eye protection to avoid severe eye damage.

Medication Sensitivity: Certain medications can increase your eyes’ sensitivity to UV light, making you more susceptible to photokeratitis.

Fun Fact: Reflected UV rays can be even more damaging than direct sunlight. Fresh snow reflects up to 80% of UV radiation, significantly increasing your risk during winter sports.

Symptoms of Photokeratitis: When the Fun Turns Gritty

Symptoms of photokeratitis typically appear within a few hours of UV exposure and can worsen overnight. Watch out for these telltale signs:

Pain and Burning: The most common symptom is a burning, gritty sensation, often described as feeling like sand is trapped under your eyelids.

Redness and Tearing: The affected eye(s) will appear red and bloodshot due to inflammation, and your eyes may become watery and produce excessive tears.

Light Sensitivity: Even dim light may feel uncomfortable, and you may find yourself squinting or closing your eyes frequently.

Blurred Vision: The damaged cornea can cause temporary blurring or haziness in your vision.

Gritty Feeling: You might feel like there’s something stuck in your eye, even after blinking repeatedly.

Eyelid Swelling: In some cases, the eyelids may become swollen and puffy.

If you experience any of these symptoms after spending time outdoors without proper eye protection, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.

Treating Photokeratitis: Soothing the Sunburn on Your Eyes

The good news is that photokeratitis usually heals on its own within 1-3 days with proper care. Here are some ways to alleviate the symptoms and promote healing:

Artificial Tears: Lubricating eye drops can help soothe the irritation and burning sensation.

Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage the discomfort.

Cold Compress: Applying a cool compress to your closed eyelids for 10-15 minutes at a time can reduce inflammation and pain.

Rest and Darkness: Avoid using electronic devices and seek a dark or dimly lit room to minimize light sensitivity.

Important Note: Avoid rubbing your eyes, wearing contact lenses, or using any eye medications not prescribed by your doctor.

If your symptoms are severe, persist for more than a few days, or you experience vision loss, consult an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) immediately. They may prescribe stronger pain medication, antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection, or bandage contact lenses to promote healing.

Prevention is Key: Keeping Photokeratitis at Bay

Now that you know the drill, here’s how to prevent photokeratitis and keep your eyes happy and healthy:

Sunglasses are Essential: Always wear UV-protective sunglasses that block out at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays, no matter the season or weather conditions.

Consider Wraparound Styles: Wraparound sunglasses offer additional protection by blocking UV rays from entering the sides of your eyes.

Hat it Up: A wide-brimmed hat can provide extra shade for your eyes and face.

Be Mindful of Reflection: Be extra cautious around reflective surfaces like snow,

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<h2 class=Arlo Wolf Eyewear: Frequently Asked Questions About Photokeratitis

What is photokeratitis? 

Photokeratitis is inflammation of the cornea, the clear dome at the front of your eye, caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Is photokeratitis serious? 

While painful and uncomfortable, photokeratitis is usually temporary and resolves within a few days with proper care. However, seeking medical attention is crucial if symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days.

Causes and Risk Factors

What causes photokeratitis? 

The main cause is spending extended time outdoors without UV-protective sunglasses, especially at high altitudes or near reflective surfaces like snow or water. Other causes include overuse of artificial UV sources (sunlamps, tanning beds), improper eye protection during welding, and certain medications that increase UV light sensitivity.

Can I get photokeratitis in the winter? 

Absolutely! Snow reflects up to 80% of UV radiation, making you more susceptible during winter sports.

Symptoms and Treatment

What are the symptoms of photokeratitis? 

Symptoms typically appear within hours of UV exposure and can worsen overnight. They include burning sensation, redness, tearing, light sensitivity, blurred vision, a gritty feeling in the eye, and eyelid swelling.

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