The corneal epithelium is susceptible to injury from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, both naturally occurring and artificial. The most common causes of UV-radiation injury to the eye are unprotected exposure to sunlamps or tanning beds, and arc welding. Prolonged outdoor exposure to reflected sunlight, or snow blindness, occurs in skiers and mountain climbers at high elevations, where there is less atmospheric diffraction of UV radiation.
Patients with ocular UV-radiation injuries present with eyelid edema, conjunctival hyperemia, and diffuse punctate keratitis. Treatment consists of patching to minimize discomfort from eyelid movement, use of a topical antibiotic ointment, and cycloplegia. If discomfort is severe, patients may require oral analgesics. Complete epithelial healing usually occurs within 24–72 hours. Appropriate protection with UV-filtering glasses can prevent most such injuries.
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 10 - Glaucoma. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.