Summer is finally here, and while most people know enough to take care of their skin, sometimes we need a reminder that our eyes need care, too. The American Dermatology Association (ADA) recommends a sunscreen that's labeled “broad-spectrum,” because this means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
UVA rays are the ones that prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, while UVB rays cause sunburn. SPF is a measure of how much UVB light a sunscreen can filter out. Dermatologists recommend using an SPF of at least 30. Health care professionals suggest applying a base coat of SPF 30 all over the body a half-hour before leaving the house and then reapplying every two hours. If you run out of sunscreen or forget it at home, you should stay in the shade as much as possible.
According to healthline.com, eyes can get sunburned the same way skin can. Sunburned eyes are caused by overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays, like those emitted by the sun. This condition is known as photokeratitis. Photokeratitis, or ultraviolet keratitis, is an inflammation of the cornea, which is the clear covering of the front of the eye. Protecting your eyes from UV rays is the only way to avoid getting them sunburned. Sunglasses are the best way to do this. Just like sunscreen, they come in different strengths, so you will want to be sure they are decent quality, or they won’t block the sun’s harmful rays. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) suggests you look for sunglasses that block 99 percent or 100 percent of all UV light. Some manufacturer's labels say "UV absorption up to 400nm." This is the same thing as 100 percent UV absorption.
As with skin, eye sunburn can vary in intensity. The longer your exposure to UV rays, the more intense your symptoms are likely to be. The symptoms of photokeratitis can be uncomfortable. They include:
If you come home from a day at the beach and your eyes hurt, it could be they got too much sun. Here are a few things you can do:
Be sure to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor if the pain does not go away in a few days. Limiting your exposure to sun and wearing shades and sunblock will not only keep you safe from the sun’s harmful rays, but it will also increase your chances of having a fun summer.