A survey by the American Optometric Association recently discovered that 35% of Americans are unaware of the risks that ultraviolet light poses to the eye. Are you one of them? If so, you are not alone. Popular journalist and television personality Anderson Cooper had no idea about the risks of UV rays until recently.
Last week, Cooper learned about those risks the hard way. While reporting on a trip for CBS’ 60 Minutes, Cooper spent one fateful afternoon on a boat in the waters on Portugal. And not thinking anything of it, the reporter did so not wearing any eye protection.
Cooper explained what happened next: “I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire, my eyeballs. [I was] temporarily blinded.”
So what happened to Cooper? Sunburn of the Eyes! You see, while the sun may not have been particularly bright that day, what caused Cooper’s condition was the ultraviolet light reflecting off the surface of the water.
Symptoms of Sunburned Eyes
- Feeling like something is in your eye
- Blurry Vision
- Temporary Vision Loss (Photokeratits)
Preventing Sunburn of the Eye
Protection is simple and easy. The American Optometric Association recommends sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. And just in case you thought you were safe because it is winter, the same thing can happen from UV rays bouncing off snow. This is often referred to as snow blindness. So please be careful and cautious!
Treating Sunburned Eyes
If not too serious, sunburned eyes can easily be treated at home with rest and lubricating eye drops. And, of course, you should stay out of the sun. However, if the pain is too severe, if you experience temporary vision loss, or if the symptoms worsen, you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor – ophthalmologist or optometrist – as soon as possible.
To learn more about Sunburned Eyes and other common eye conditions, please contact board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles, consultative optometrists Dr. Nathan Frank and Dr. Corinne Casey, and the eye care specialists at Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here to visit AnneArundelEyeCenter.com. Staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals, our state-of-the-art treatment center is dedicated to making the best eye care accessible to everyone.
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.