Going out in the sun is something that's enjoyable for most people, and it's even good for your body, as the UV rays help your body to develop natural vitamin D. But not everything about being out in the sun is good for you. Chances are you already know that the sun can damage your skin, but what about your eyes? If you've been spending some time in the sun lately and your eyes feel dry and itchy afterward, you might want to consider visiting with an eye doctor. Here's why.
What's Going On
More likely than not, the condition that you're going through is probably photokeratitis, or in layman's terms, an eye sunburn. Yes, the eyes can effectively be sunburned just like the skin can. This is why it's so important to wear adequate sun protection for your eyes and never look directly at the sun.
Unfortunately, eye sunburns can impact anyone at any age, so long as they spend enough time in the sun. It may be more common for people who have light-colored eyes, like blue or green eyes, than those who have darker ones, as the extra melanin sometimes helps to protect parts of the eye. However, the entire exposed area of the eyeball is susceptible to eye sunburn, so don't think you're safe just because you have brown eyes.
What to Do About It
If you think that you might have an eye sunburn, you need to visit with an eye doctor about it. Eye sunburns rarely cause long-term damage to the eyes, but the discomfort you're experiencing now can potentially last for days if left untreated. In addition, it's a good idea to have your eyes examined to ensure that additional damage wasn't done to areas like the retina, which is critical to your sight.
When you visit the eye doctor, they'll look into your eyes with their ophthalmoscope to look for areas of damage. If they don't find any beyond an eye sunburn, they'll likely recommend taking a few days out of the sun as much as possible. They may also prescribe eye drops to help with the inflammation and itchiness that you're experiencing. If they do, make sure to follow the directions precisely and try to not miss a dose or your symptoms may return.
Eye sunburns aren't a huge problem, but the overall damage to your eyes from the UV rays can be. Don't let an eye sunburn go unchecked.
For more information, contact an eye clinic like Northwest Ophthalmology.