Preventing Sunburn on the Eyes |

Preventing Sunburn on the Eyes

Most people are aware of the necessity of protecting their eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun.  Whether you like Matrix sunglasses or some other type, shielding your eyes from the sun is absolutely critical.  But according to a recent survey of over 1,000 US residents (the “American Eye-Q” survey), only 32% of respondents were aware of the magnitude of potential damage that NOT protecting your eyes could cause.

Too much UV exposure can cause premature aging of the eyes as well as a host of eye diseases.  Examples include macular degeneration (which often leads to blindness), cataracts, and even cancer of the eye.  Eventually, constant UV exposure could harm the retinas, and this is not good since each eye’s retina is the primary enabler of vision.

Another lesser-known problem is called photokeratitis, which in layman’s terms means sunburn of the eyes.  The condition is just like sunburn of the skin, but it can linger on for several weeks.  Luckily the condition is normally temporary, but while the problem persists it can cause bloodshot eyes, a grainy sensation in the eyes, excessive eye sensitivity, blurred vision, and pain.  And it can actually become a permanent condition with long term exposure.

If you have sensitive skin or eyes in general, you might want to take a couple additional steps to protect against the threat of photokeratitis.  Obviously the first step is to wear a pair of high quality sunglasses.  The lenses should offer UVA and UVB protection (UV400), and the frame should be a thicker wrap-around style.  Avoid frameless shades (for example, Morpheus Sunglasses) because these will let UV rays penetrate your eyes from the sides.  Also, if you wear contact lenses, you can purchase models that offer UV protection.  Finally, for ultra-sensitive eyes you should apply sunscreen around your eyes and also wear a hat if you plan to be in the sun for more than a couple of hours.

The bottom line is that you only get one pair of eyes so it is important to take proper care of them.  And if your eyes or your skin is extremely sensitive, be aware that you might be prone to photokeratitis – sunburn of the eyes.

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