How to Treat Sunburned Eyes

You may ask yourself, what are sunburned eyes? How does one get sunburned eyes? When we think of sunburns, it’s commonly associated with the skin, but our eyes are not immune to the UV rays emitted from the sun. Also known as photokeratitis, sunburned eyes are the result of prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays and can lead to a wide spectrum of eye conditions, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. If you’ve been in the sun for long periods of time and begin to feel burning sensations on your eyes, you may be experiencing photokeratitis. Luckily, learning how to treat sunburned eyes is fairly simple. Here are a few important things to consider when dealing with this common condition.

What Causes Sunburned Eyes?

As mentioned before, ultraviolet light is the main culprit that causes your eyes and eyelids to become sunburned. The UV lights are actually capable of damaging the DNA that makes up your eyes and can cause a great deal of irritation. Without shade or sunglasses, you can be at risk for higher degrees of eye damage. Although the sun is the source of UV rays, keep in mind that damage can also be caused by objects reflecting the rays such as sand and water.


Symptoms of Sunburned Eyes


Please keep in mind that these symptoms should be temporary. In most cases, they don’t last longer than 24 to 48 hours. If it persists longer than this time, make an appointment with your eye doctor to have your eyes evaluated.

If you feel as though your eyes may have been sunburned, refer to the following list of symptoms. However, we highly recommend visiting your local eye doctor to receive a thorough examination.

How to Treat Sunburned Eyes

When treating any eye condition, it’s important to be extremely careful not to cause further irritation by mishandling them. Your eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of your body and it’s vital to handle them with care at all times. Sunburned eyes typically heal on their own, but there are several methods you should consider to further aid the healing process.

First, you should avoid rubbing your eyes. Doing so will cause even greater damage and may lead to more severe eye conditions. Instead of rubbing them, try placing a cool and damp towel over your closed eyes. This should help soothe them. If you typically wear contact lenses, we recommend leaving them out while your eyes are healing. For at least 48 hours, it’s best to stay indoors and wear sunglasses to shield your sensitive eyes. Periodically, you should apply over the counter pain relievers and preservative-free artificial tears. Just make sure to be mindful of their instructions and recommended dosages.

Here’s a simple list to memorize:

  • Place cool compresses
  • Take pain relievers (Tylenol) (Motrin)
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Moisturize
  • Avoid contact lenses