Keratitis is a medical term for inflammation of the black part of the eye. The prefix photo- means sunlight. So photokeratitis is a medical condition that basically means your eye gets burned by the sunlight. This article describes the cause, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of photokeratitis.
Photokeratitis tends to occur in areas in the North and South poles where there are extended and strong sunlight. Moreover, the ultraviolet is also very strong in high mountains where the air that protects against the ultraviolet is thin.
Photokeratitis causes a wide variety of eye discomforts, such as eye pain, redness, tearing, sensitivity to sunlight, gritty feeling, reduced eyesight and halos, or even temporary vision loss.
The main source of eye injury derives from the invisible rays of energy called ultraviolet that comes from the sunlight. For example, you may get photokeratitis if you stare at the sun for an extended period of time. Frequently, other man-made light sources could also lead to photokeratitis, such as tanning lamps, arc welding and tanning beds.
An interesting form of photokeratitis is called snow blindness, which occurs when the ultraviolet rays are reflected by the snow and hit the black part of the eye.
In general, a clear history of eye discomforts after exposure to ultraviolet rays indicates the presence of photokeratitis. However, the symptoms are non-specific. Your doctor needs to rule out other conditions that may cause the same symptoms, such as dry eyes and infectious keratitis. Your doctor may use an eye drop with fluorescein dye, which can reveal irregularities on the surface of the black part of the eye.
For most patients, the symptoms will go away within 2 days if further exposure to the ultraviolet rays can be avoided. Your eye doctor may recommend putting an ice pack to relieve the discomfort. Artificial tears may be prescribed to lubricate your eyes. If the doctor thinks you may have a concomitant bacterial keratitis, antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed. During treatment, the patient is suggested to remove the contact lens.
If you have incidental photokeratitis, you can sit back and relax because it does not seem to cause any permanent unfavorable health consequences. However, if you have repeated photokeratitis, then you may be at increased risk for developing other eye conditions, such as cataracts, pterygium or even skin cancer of the eyelid.
· Wear sunglasses when you go to areas with strong ultraviolet rays
· Wear helmets and protective eye goggles when you have to work with ultraviolet rays, such as you are welding arcs