News — 22/04/2018

Can your eyes get sunburnt?

The answer is yes!

Australians be warned to not only slip, slop and slap, but to slide on some sunnies to protect their eyes from the sun’s harsh rays. Just like our skin, our eyes are susceptible to sunburn and the effects could seriously upset your summer.

The eyes are more sensitive than our skin to UV rays and without protection they are at risk of photokeratitis, a painful eye condition that occurs when your eyes are exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It’s common, particularly when a person has been unprotected from reflected glare. Photokeratitis can occur in one or both eyes simultaneously. Similar to sunburn like that which occurs on your skin, it is not usually noticed until well after the damage has occurred. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurriness, tearing, swelling and sensitivity to light.

The risk to children’s eyes from sun exposure is significantly greater than for adults. Below are some tips for parents:

  • While you don’t have to spend a fortune buying sunglasses for yourself or your children, always check the tag as sunglasses sold in Australia must state the level of UV protection. Go for sunglasses marked category 2, 3 or 4 to provide good UV protection.
  • Novelty or toy sunglasses with coloured lenses in category 0 or 1 don’t provide enough protection and should be avoided.
  • Polarized lenses are great for cutting reflected glare and are useful for the beach, fishing and driving.
  • Sunglasses are also available for those who need prescription lenses and come in tinted, polarized or variable colour (photochromatic) options.
  • Close-fitting, wraparound styles and sunglasses with thicker arms help block glare entering the eyes from the side of the head.
  • It’s never too early for children to wear sunglasses so get them in the habit of doing so while they’re young. Sunglasses with an elasticated band around the back can help to keep them in place.
  • If older children are having trouble wearing sunglasses, then the next best thing is a broad brimmed hat that provides some shade for the eyes – but note that hats stop only around 50 per cent of UV rays from entering the eyes.
  • For young babies, a cover over their pram will help protect their skin and eyes from the sun’s rays.