Australia | English

Can Your Eyes Get Sunburned?

You, wouldn't think so, but they sure can! During the hot summer months, we're constantly reminded to "Slip, Slop, Slap" to protect our skin from the sun's damaging UV rays, but what many of us don't realise is that our eyes are vulnerable to becoming sunburned too.

Long hours in the sun expose unprotected eyes to dangerous UVA and UVB rays and can cause sunburned eyes. If you've spent several hours in the sun and your eyes start watering, become itchy, sensitive to light, or dry and gritty, it's likely you have sunburned eyes. Sunburned eyes aren't just irritating. Resident optometrist from Optometry Australia, Luke Arundel, says that without protection, eyes are at risk of photokeratitis, a painful eye condition that occurs when eyes are exposed to too much ultraviolet radiation.

"Photokeratitis can occur in one or both eyes simultaneously, and like sunburn which occurs on your skin, it is not usually noticed until well after the damage has occurred," he says.

It's easy to prevent sunburned eyes. A wide-brimmed hat will help shade your eyes, but don't stop there. Every member of your family should wear sunglasses outdoors. Ask your optometrist for sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection and/or blue-light filtering. Think about frame size too—larger frames help prevent harmful rays from sneaking in at the sides or top of your glasses.

Take these few simple precautions to protect your eyes from burning, and not only will you have fun in the sun, but you'll enjoy good vision for many summers to come!

If you suspect your eyes are seriously sunburned, don't take any chances. Visit your VSP network optometrist right away.