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  • Dr. Sandra Chiu

Will your eyes get sunburned?




With Canada breaking its national heat record this year, have you ever thought about whether your eyes will get sunburned?


Yes! They can burn just like your skin.


Photokeratitis, or a severe sunburn to the cornea, is caused by overexposure to UV rays. It can be caused by direct sunlight, man-made UV light, and sunlight that’s reflected off of sand, water, ice and snow. Over time, too much sun exposure can lead to other eye diseases, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and different types of eyelid cancer.

Just like your skin, sunburns to the eye can vary in intensity. The longer your exposure to UV rays, the more intense your symptoms will be.


So, if you’ve ever experienced a sandy/gritty feeling in your eyes, tearing, blurry vision, temporary vision loss or even changes to your colour perception after a long day at the beach, you may have had a case of photokeratitis. If this happens to you, remember to:

  • Remove contact lenses if you are wearing any

  • Do NOT rub your eyes

  • Use a cool compress over closed eyes and rest

  • And, most importantly, call your optometrist to get your eyes checked as soon as possible

The best thing you can do prevent sun damage to your eyes, is to wear a pair of sunglasses that have close to 100% UV protection before you go out to enjoy the sun.


If you have questions about sunburned eyes or if you are looking for sunglasses with proper UV protection, contact us today!

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