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What Are the Symptoms of Sun Damage to the Eyes?

Blog, Eye Exam, Eye Information, Eyeglasses

Did you know that you can experience temporary eye damage from the sun’s reflection? A corneal sunburn is one of the first things you may notice. In technical terms, this is called photokeratitis, and you don’t have to be out in the sun all day to get the side effects. 


You can get photokeratitis from spending any amount of time outside, as it’s not how long you spend in UV light, but how much UV light your eyes are exposed to, that contributes to your symptoms.


Keep reading to learn some of the primary symptoms of sun damage to the eyes

5 Symptoms of Sun Damage to the Eyes

Photokeratitis can affect anyone, including children. No matter the season, taking the right precautions for your eyes is essential to prevent ocular damage. 


Here are some symptoms of sun damage to the eyes:

#1: A Need to Look Away From Lights Immediately

You’ll know if you’ve been out in the sun for too long if light feels extra painful in your eyes. Responsiveness to light is one of the first signs of an eye sunburn. 


Tip: Wear wraparound sunglasses the next time you go outdoors. We recommend eyewear that promises to protect your eyes against at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays. 

#2: A Sensation That You Have a Foreign Substance in Your Eyes

Think of how itchy your body feels after getting sunburned. Your eyes are no different. It may feel like you have an unnatural substance, such as sand, in your eyes, which can make you want to rub them. 


Tip: While it might be difficult, try not to put your hands anywhere near your eyes. This can worsen your symptoms. Instead, give your eyes a few days to rest. That should be all they need to get back to normal. 

#3: Eye Discomfort or Inflammation

Staring right at the sun may affect your eyes, but so can looking at the sun’s reflection on the sand, snow, and water. Your eyes might feel uncomfortable, get puffy, or turn bloodshot. Watch for these symptoms to ensure they don’t worsen after a few days, or you might need to contact an eye doctor.


Tip: Lay a wet towel over your eyes to help with your discomfort. Make sure the water is cold–not hot. 

#4: Noticing Halos

You might observe rings of light around bright objects if you get a corneal sunburn. If so, don’t worry. This symptom of sun damage is common, and it usually passes in no time. 


Tip: Step away from the sun as soon as you can if you experience any halos or other symptoms of sun damage to the eyes. 

#5: Teary Eyes

Don’t be surprised if your eyes water after getting a lot of sunshine. Your tear flow may increase as a result of an eye sunburn. 


Tip: Steer clear of eye makeup while you have symptoms of exposure to UV light. It may cause more irritation while your eyes are already more sensitive than usual. 

What Are the Symptoms of Sun Damage to the Eyes

Summary: Signs of Eye Damage From the Sun’s Reflection 

What is sun damage to the eyes called? Photokeratitis. In simple terms, this means a sunburn in your cornea, and it can happen no matter how much time you spend around UV light. You don’t even need to look right at the sun to get it. Photokeratitis is just as possible by gazing at the sun’s reflection on the lake, mounds of snow, or sand. 


Some common symptoms of sun damage to the eyes include:


  • A higher-than-average tear flow
  • An odd sensation that you have sand somewhere in your eye
  • An urge to redirect your eyes away from light as soon as possible
  • Finding well-lit rings of light in your field of view 
  • Redness or discomfort in the eyes


Just remember that your eyes can heal from sun damage. It often only lasts a couple of days, and if it feels like it’s taking too long, our eye doctors can always take a look. 

Find a local For Eyes optical store today. We’re here when you need us.

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