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Photokeratitis. This is the “sunburn” of the cornea. During the past 4th of July holiday were you out playing yard games with the family? Boating on the lake? Sunbathing on a beach? More importantly, were you wearing eye protection?

Sunbathing and Sunglasses

Sunglasses are beneficial to help prevent Photokeratitis. Symptoms may include discomfort, blurred vision, and light sensitivity. Many times the sunburn is not usually noticed until several hours after exposure. The temporary vision loss that may result from Photokeratitis is called “snow blindness.” Ultraviolet (UV) rays and excessive sunlight, especially the type of rays which bounce off of snow and ice may lead to this painful sunburn. Being knowledgeable in regards to UV light is important to protect your eyes.

Outdoor risk factors including geographic location, altitude, the time of day, setting, and medications all determine the risk of damage. UV levels are greater when the sun is high in the sky, typically from 10am to 2pm. Also UV levels are greater in wide open spaces, especially when highly reflective surfaces are present such as sand. Always be aware of your medications, birth control pills, sulfa drugs, and tranquilizers are a few of the medications that may increase your body’s sensitivity to UV radiation.

This “sunburn” of the eye is preventable by understanding what Photokeratitis is, how UV rays are harmful, and wearing sun protection. Sunglasses or eye protection that transmits 5-10% of visible light and absorbs almost all UV rays are most beneficial. Look for sun protection that has large lenses and side shields to avoid incidental exposure from light as well. Call your optician in Lenscrafters at (815) 332-3233 to discuss more options.

If you feel that you or a family member may have symptoms of Photokeratitis, please call Dr. Facchiano and Associates at (815) 332-2223 to schedule an appointment.

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