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Eye Injuries Caused by Ultraviolet (UV) Light - Topic Overview

Ultraviolet (UV) light can cause serious flash burns to the cornea from a source of radiation like the sun or lights.

  • High-intensity light from welding equipment. Wear a welding mask or goggles for protection.
  • Sunlight (ultraviolet rays). This is especially true at elevations above 5000 ft (1524 m) or when the sun glares off snow or water. Looking into the sun for long periods of time can cause permanent loss of vision by damaging the retina. Wear sunglasses that filter ultraviolet (UV) light for protection.
  • Tanning booths or sunlamps. Wear sunglasses or specially designed goggles for protection.

Symptoms may not start for 6 to 12 hours after exposure to the ultraviolet light. Symptoms include:

  • A feeling that something is in the eyes (foreign body sensation).
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia).
  • Tearing.

Ultraviolet injuries to the eyelids usually don't involve the eyeball because the blink reflex protects the eyeball. If the eyes are tightly closed, the edges of the eyelids may also be protected.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 03, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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