19. April 2012 13:47
Photokeratitis is a condition of the eyes, which involves the inflammation of the outermost layers of the eyes- the cornea and conjunctiva, on exposure to natural or artificial ultraviolet rays (most commonly UVB rays). The disorder can be compared to sunburn of the skin, the only difference being that it affects the eyes. Symptoms usually appear after several hours of unprotected exposure to the UV rays.
The term photokeratitis is often used interchangeably with other terms like snow blindness, welder’s flash, arc eye, flash burns, etc. It can be prevented by using protective eye-gear like welding goggles, welding helmet, sunglasses certified to provide UV protection, and snow goggles.
All eye-gear used for protection should have side shields and large lenses, to avoid accidental exposure, and should be worn even when the sky is overcast, since UV rays penetrate clouds. Ancient Egyptians blackened the skin beneath the eyes to avoid reflection of UV rays. This method is recommended in the SAS survival guide.
- Welding without protection (Arc eye)
- Exposure to sunlight reflected from ice or snow (Snow blindness)- Fresh snow reflects 80% of the UV radiations.
- Exposure to sunlight reflected from sea or sand- Sand reflects 15% of the UV radiations, while sea foam reflects 25%.
- Exposure to sunlight at elevated levels- The intensity of UV rays increases by 4% for every thousand feet above sea level.
- Looking directly at a solar eclipse
- Exposure to artificial sources of UV light, like carbon arcs, lighting, photographic flood lamps, halogen desk lamps, sun tanning beds etc.
- Feeling of sand particles in the eyes, which persists even after repeated washing
- Blurred vision
- Temporary vision loss
- Seeing halos around the eyes
- Constricted pupils
- Twitching of the eyelids
- Discomfort in bright light
- While most of these symbols resolve on their own in around 36 hours, some symptoms, like constriction of the pupils can last for as long as 128 hours.
- Anesthetic eye drops can be administered for temporary relief of pain, but these should be avoided, as they interfere with the natural healing process, and can lead to corneal ulceration as well as vision loss.
- Cold compresses and artificial tears can be used to relieve symptoms.
- NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) eye drops are useful in reducing pain and inflammation.
- Oral pain relievers can be used in case of severe pain.
- The source of exposure should be immediately removed, and the patient should preferably be isolated in a dark room, or should wear sun glasses.
- Contact lenses must be removed, and rubbing of eyes should be avoided.
To know more about Photokeratitis and its treatment, visit us at Killeen Eyecare Center located at 416, North Gray Street, Killeen, TX 76541, Downtown Killeen or call us at 254-634-7805.
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