Actinic Keratitis


Actinic Keratitis

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Also called as ultravoilet keratitis or photokeratitis.

Actinic Keratitis

A reaction of the cornea to ultraviolet light.

ICD-9-CM: 370.24.

Photokeratitis is a condition, which occurs when the cornea of the eye becomes burned. There are various forms of photokeratitis including snow blindness, Welder's Flash and arc eye.

Ultraviolet light is the most common cause of radiation injury to the eye. The cornea absorbs most UV radiation. UV radiation damage to the corneal epithelium is cumulative, similar to the effects with dermal epithelium.

Photokeratitis often occurs at high altitudes where there is highly reflective snow. It is termed radiation keratitis and snow blindness if it occurs due to reflection from the snow. Sunlight reflecting off of sand and water further increases exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and can cause photokeratitis. The condition may also occur with a solar eclipse or by lightening, although these circumstances are very rare. Artificial sources of UVB rays can also cause photokeratitis. Examples include sun tanning beds, photographic flood lamps, electric sparks and even halogen desk lamps.

Unprotected exposures to the sun or solar eclipses or exposure to the sun on highly reflective snow fields at high elevation can lead to direct corneal epithelial injury.

Symptoms:

Symptoms include:

  • Hazy vision and temporary loss of vision.

  • Tearing.

  • Redness of eyes.

  • Gritty eyes.

  • Swollen eyelids.

  • Headaches.

  • Loss of Vision.

Diagnosis:

Slit lamp examination with fluorescein in suspected cases of photokeratitis.

Treatment Options:

Photokeratitis can be very painful and the best way to treat eyes is to place ophthalmic antibiotic drops into the eyes and to keep them closed, preferably with eye patches. Recovery is usually within 48 hours, this is because the surface of the cornea regenerates itself every 24 to 48 hours. Cool wet compresses over the eyes and artificial tears may help local symptoms when the feeling returns. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) eyedrops are widely used to lessen inflammation and eye pain, but have not been proven in rigorous trials.

Prevention always is better than cure and sunglasses with adequate UVB protection, equipped with side shields, are essential.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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