The Symptoms of Sunburned Eyes
By the time you realize something’s wrong, it’s often too late to do much about it. However, knowing the symptoms of sunburned eyes could minimize the problem. The symptoms generally get worse a few hours after exposure to UV rays just like the skin does, but it’s important to know what to look for. Symptoms can include all or some of the following:
- Eye pain.
- Burning eyes.
- A gritty feeling in the eyes.
- Red eyes.
- Itchy eyes.
- Dry eyes.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Changes in vision.
- A loss of vision.
- Blurry vision.
- Watery eyes.
- Swollen eyes or eyelids.
- Halos or a glare around lights.
Sunburned eyes occur most often at higher altitudes or with exposure to bright fields of light, even refracted light. It can also occur when individuals use tanning beds or from a welder’s arc, lightening or even halogen lamps. It can also be caused by looking at the sun such as during a solar eclipse. With repeated exposure, cataracts and macular degeneration could result.
Sunburn Eyes Treatment
1. Rest Your Eyes
Most doctors recommend that your sunburn eyes treatment begin with rest. The eyes need to be rested from 24 to 72 hours before the corneas will have the opportunity to fully regenerate. That’s usually best accomplished by using antibiotic eye drops then covering your eyes with patches.
If you start your recovery with total vision loss, be assured that your eyesight will usually returns within 18 hours. If you don’t have the assistance needed while recovering, it’s important that during this period you stay indoors, wear sunglasses and keep the eyes moistened with artificial tears. Also, do not wear contact lenses during the time you are recovering.
2. Avoid the Sun and Wind
Staying out of the sun and wind is a highly recommended sunburn eyes treatment. When the eyes are sunburned, small specks of dead cells on the skin of the cornea results. That’s why it often feels like a foreign object has gotten into your eyes making them feel gritty when you blink. Additional exposure to sun and wind will only exacerbate and prolong the problem.
If you do need to go outside, wait until it begins to get dark after the wind has died down. It’s important to remember that, at most, the condition will only last about 3 days so remind yourself to be patient.
3. Take an Anti-inflammatory and Apply Cold Compresses
One of the ways you can tell that your eyes have been sunburned is by the redness and swelling around the eyes that will accompany the condition. Sometimes the eyelids will even swell so much that they close. When the body is injured, it automatically increases blood flow to the damaged area in order to promote healing.
Begin your sunburn eyes treatment by taking an anti-inflammatory to help reduce the swelling. Cool water soaks placed on the eyes will also help with any discomfort you feel.
4. Use Cool Compresses, Artificial Tears and Skin Cream
Sunburns and snow burns not only injure the eyes but also dry out the skin around the eyes which is why the use of skin cream is needed. Further exposure to the sun and wind could cause scarring and could damage the eyes further.
Cool compresses should ease the discomfort associated with sunburn eyes, artificial tears will keep the eyes moistened and the use of a topical cream, like an Aloe Vera gel, will help ensure the skin is restored to its prior condition. However, as with any medical condition, prevention is even better.
How to Prevent Sunburned Eyes
Unfortunately, by the time you notice the symptoms of sunburned eyes, you’ve already been exposed to UV rays for too long. That happens regardless of whether you’re in a sunny environment, the snow, stepping out of a tanning bed or welding. The condition is fairly easy to prevent if you wear eye protection that blocks 100% of UV rays.
For those that wear glasses, photochromic lenses that darken when in the light are found by many individuals to be extremely convenient. It’s also important to remember that UV rays can even penetrate clouds so precautions should be taken whether you can see the sun or not.
For outdoor enthusiasts, just wearing sunglasses or a hat with a brim may not be enough. It is highly recommended that wrap-around style eyewear be utilized in order to prevent indirect sunlight. The sun’s rays that reach your eyes from the openings in the side of your glasses is just as dangerous as the rays that you’re looking at directly.
The eyewear industry has taken the problem seriously and now manufacture sunglasses, snow goggles and sports goggles with side-shields and soft rubber flanges that completely block the sun from reaching your eyes from the front, sides, top or bottom.
The thought of damaging your eyes is a frightening concept. Fortunately, with sunburned eyes the problem generally resolves itself within a short period of time and it is a condition that is totally preventable. Should you find that your eyes have been overexposed to UV rays, begin your sunburn eyes treatment immediately. The steps listed here should help. By taking a few precautions, however, you’ll have hours of outdoor fun with good vision for many years to come.