Everyone knows that the sun can cause sunburns and skin damage, but not everyone knows that it can do the same thing to the eyes. The cornea, the lens in the front of your eye, absorbs most ultraviolet radiation and can become inflamed as a result of excessive sun exposure. This inflammation is known as ultraviolet keratitis. Here are four things you need to know about it. 

What are the signs of ultraviolet keratitis?

If you have ultraviolet keratitis, your eyes will be red and sore. You may feel like you have sand in your eyes as well as excessive tearing. Bright lights may make your eyes feel worse. Your vision may be blurry or distorted, and in severe cases, you will be completely blind. If you notice these symptoms after spending a lot of time in the sun, you may have ultraviolet keratitis.

Is it serious?

Fortunately, ultraviolet keratitis doesn't lead to long-term vision problems. Even in severe cases of ultraviolet keratitis, the blindness doesn't last long. The sun-damaged cells in your eyes regenerate quickly, so in most cases, you'll be able to see again in a few days. That doesn't mean that it's totally harmless, though. Once your vision returns, you may have to deal with long-term complications like eye irritation or watery eyes.

How is ultraviolet keratitis treated?

If you develop this condition, your optometrist can help ease your symptoms. Artificial tears and cold compresses can be used to ease the burning sensation in your eyes. You may also be told to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with the pain of the burn, and if your pain is very severe, your optometrist may give you a prescription for a stronger painkiller. While you're healing, it's important to stay out of the sun and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from further damage.

How can you prevent it?

After suffering through ultraviolet keratitis once, you won't want to go through it again. Fortunately, it's easy to prevent this condition. The easiest way to protect your eyes is to wear sunglasses. Make sure to choose sunglasses that wrap around your eyes; these may not be the most fashionable sunglasses, but they offer the best protection. The sun can still damage your eyes on cloudy days, so make sure to wear your sunglasses every day. Adding a hat or visor will provide even more protection.

For more information, contact Valentine Eye Care or a similar location.