UV Safety Month: Prevent Photokeratitis This Summer

Awareness of the damage the sun’s rays can cause to your skin has become widespread. However, not enough of the population realizes the damage also extends to the sensitive tissues that form our eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) wants to stress the fact that, especially during the summer months, UV protection for eyes is essential.


Source: Choreograph via iStockphoto

Source: Choreograph via iStockphoto


According to the AAO, overexposure to UV rays can increase the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and tumors that can lead to melanoma. One type of common damage is a condition called  photokeratitis. In the simplest terms, photokeratitis is sunburn of the eyes. Similar to how lighter-skinned people burn easily in the sun, those who have light eye colors are also more susceptible due to the lack of pigmentation through the layers of the eyes.


Mild cases of photokeratitis can feel like there is grit in your eyes. More extreme cases include intense burning in the eyes, caused by damaged and peeling corneal layers. An immediate visit to your ophthalmologist is essential if you’re showing signs of photokeratitis. In most cases, the condition will clear up after several days, and treatment involves cold compresses, anti-inflammatory eye drops without steroids and darkness or wearing  dark sunglasses until healing is complete.


In our efforts to be the retina company, Optos would like to take advantage of  UV Safety Month and remind you of the importance of UV protection for eyes. The following tips can ensure your eyes are well-protected and your vision is unharmed by the sun:


  • – When purchasing sunglasses, be sure they are labeled to protect against UVA and UVB rays. If they do not specify, they are not adequate protection.
  • – If you do not wear wraparound sunglasses, consider adding a hat with a brim.
  • – Some medications can cause you to be more vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist and take extra precautions.


While UV protection for eyes is tantamount to your eye health, so is a regularly-scheduled, comprehensive eye exam. Ask your eye health professional if they use optomap® to provide early discovery and treatment of eye disease and afflictions.