Getting a sunburn is never fun. You’re left with skin so sensitive to the touch that wearing clothes can be a struggle. But as bad as a tomato-hued complexion is for your pain threshold and your general health, getting an eyeball sunburn—AKA photokeratitis—is not only a totally IRL thing, but it might even feel worse.
Busy Philipps recently took to Instagram to share her experience with the painful condition, which is often a result of exposure to bright lights and—you guessed it—the sun. The actress found her symptoms to be so agonizing that she said she “couldn’t sleep because it felt like there were shards of glass in both my eyes.” Eek.
According to Refinery29, you don’t even have to look into the sun to contract the condition: All it takes is looking at the sun directly or its rays reflected on snow, water, ice, or sand, or even looking at unnatural light from tanning beds or a welder’s torch.
I'M FINE! This is just my vibe, guys! Gonna tell you the whole story on this week's @nodocspodcast but spent last night at Cedars after I couldn't sleep because it felt like there were shards of glass in both my eyes. I have Photo Keratitis from bright lights/sun exposure! WHO EVEN KNEW THAT WAS A THING? 🤷🏼♀️🤷🏼♀️🤷🏼♀️
If you do think you have photokeratitis (which is also called ultraviolet keratitis), it won’t take docs long to tell. You’ll probably experience everything from pain and redness to blurry vision, swelling, sensitivity to light, and, according to the Cleveland Clinic, a “gritty sensation in the eyes.” But, good news: Typically the symptoms fade on their own after six hours to two days have passed—but a doc can give you some medicated drops to relieve pain in the meantime.
You shouldn’t have any permanent damage from eyeball sunburns, but to prevent the condition from happening in the first place, Refinery29 reports you should make sunglasses and snow goggles your new BFFs—and, bonus points if they’re built to absorb 99 percent of UV rays. The next time you’re out in the sun, of course lather up—but make sure your peepers protected, too.
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