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What is Photokeratitis?

What is Photokeratitis?

Photokeratitis is a reasonably common condition, affecting around 34% of Americans every year. But what is it, exactly?Not only that, what can be done if you’re diagnosed, are there any risk factors that can predispose you to the condition, and what can you do to lower your chances of getting it?Read on for the lowdown on everything to do with Photokeratitis.

Photokeratitis 101

  • Photokeratitis: what it is
  • Photokeratitis: who gets it
  • Photokeratitis: diagnosis and treatment

Photokeratitis: what is it?

Photokeratitis is a condition that occurs when the eyes are exposed to excessive UV light. This can include the condition we commonly call “snow blindness”. It usually occurs through the natural UV rays from the sun, although these can also be emitted from man-made sources.When the eyes are over-exposed to these rays, it causes a similar reaction to sunburn on the skin. The different with photokeratitis is that the damage is on the delicate structures of the eye:

  • The cornea
  • The conjunctiva
  • The inside of the eyelids

Photokeratitis is very painful and, in the worst situations, cause temporary blindness. While it can be due to direct sun exposure, UV rays can also be reflected back from surfaces, including water, sand, ice, and snow. Man-made sources of UV light that can also cause it include sun lamps, tanning booths, and arc welding.

Photokeratitis: who gets it?

Anyone can suffer from the condition.  However, there are some occupations and pastimes that can make people more prone to the condition:

  • Welders
  • Those who use tanning services
  • Sunbathing
  • Snow sports
  • Water sports

Any activities that expose the eyes to UV light pose a threat. Without adequate protection from good quality sunglasses, goggles, or visors, the burn of photokeratitis can happen without you being aware of it until symptoms start to show.

Photokeratitis: diagnosis and treatment

If you are unlucky enough to suffer, you’ll be in no doubt that there’s a problem. Typical symptoms that should have you booking an eye appointment straight away include:

  • Photosensitivity
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Pain
  • A gritty feeling within the eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Redness
  • Eyelid twitching
  • Temporary color changes in vision

In severe conditions, temporary vision loss can occur.As with sunburn, the symptoms don’t begin to show until after the damage has been done. In the same way as you don’t notice the sun burning your skin until a few hours after you take shelter, photokeratitis also has a delayed response.The condition can easily be diagnosed by an eye doctor, with treatment usually focusing on keeping you comfortable until the symptoms subside. This will include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relief
  • Cold eye compresses
  • Using artificial tears
  • Antibiotic eye drops

If you think that you’re suffering from photokeratitis you should seek expert help straight away. Remove any contact lenses, shield your eyes from natural light with sunglasses, and avoid touching or rubbing them.As painful as the condition is, even the worst cases that cause vision loss have an almost 100% recovery rate. One significant exception to this is retinal burns that are caused from directly staring at the sun. This can cause serious and long-lasting damage.Despite the excellent change of recovery, protecting your eyes from overexposure to UV rays should be a priority. Invest in some good quality sunglasses, wear appropriate PPE, and ensure anyone around you also does the same.

Get the Ultimate Treatment for Photokeratitis and Other Eye Disorders at the WBEC

The West Boca Eye Center is a location of excellence for every area of eye health. Offering highly trained and experienced clinicians, this academic-grade eye clinic provides speciality treatment for photokeratitis, laser vision correction, dry eyes & allergies, glaucoma, diabetic eye care, cataract care, and more.Whether you're worried about photokeratitis, another condition, or simply want to benefit from the ultimate in general eye care, there’s no better place in the US for patient-centric whole vision care.Discover more about us at and call our friendly team today for an appointment.

What is Photokeratitis?
What is Photokeratitis?

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Located 1/2 miles North of West Boca Medical Center on Glades Road, directly behind Macy's Furniture Gallery.

West Boca Eye Center
9325 Glades Road, Suite 201.
Boca Raton, FL 33434

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