UV-related Eye Injuries: Protecting Your Eyes From the Sun

Although the warmer months are a great time to head outdoors, UV-related eye injuries can take place year-round, and some of these injuries can even threaten your vision. This is why it is important to take appropriate measures to protect your eyes from UV rays early on, which can save the delicate structures within the eye from decades of damage. Below, the team at Eye Center of Austin share important information about eye injuries caused by UV rays, and what you can do to be safe.


cataract treatment AustinCataracts develop over time, compromising your vision in the process. However, unprotected exposure to UV rays can contribute to the development of this condition. UV rays entering the eye can cause proteins within the eye to form clumps, preventing light from passing through the lens. Cataract symptoms include:

  • Vision that appears dull or dim
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Frequently changing eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Observing halos around lights
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in dimly-lit settings

Surfer’s Eye

Also called pterygium, surfer’s eye is a vision-threatening eye condition that is caused primarily by long-term exposure to UV light. It is a triangular-shaped growth on the conjunctiva, which is the white part of the eye. The conjunctiva usually ends at the cornea, but with surfer’s eye, a portion of it thickens and grows outwards, sometimes obscuring the cornea and affecting vision.

Symptoms of surfer’s eye include:

  • A noticeable, raised area on the eye
  • Eye redness and irritation
  • A burning sensation in the eyes
  • Dry or itchy eyes
  • Sensation of a foreign object in the eye
  • Watery eyes


Photokeratitis is a painful eye injury that is sustained after the eyes have been exposed to UV light. It is often described as an eye sunburn, due to the pain and sensitivity associated with it. Also known as snow blindness, photokeratitis occurs when harmful UV light is reflected off a bright surface, such as snow. The following symptoms may indicate you are suffering from photokeratitis:

  • Eye pain or discomfort
  • Blurred vision
  • Eyes that are sensitive to light
  • The feeling of sand or dirt in the eyes
  • Temporary loss of vision
  • Headaches

Protect Your Eyes

Avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wearing appropriately fitted UV-blocking eyewear, and putting on a hat before heading outside can help minimize your exposure to UV light and prevent serious UV-related eye injuries.

Eye Health in Austin

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to UV light exposure, don’t delay seeking treatment. Contact Eye Clinic of Austin online for an appointment or call our office today.

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