Photokeratitis


Photokeratitis

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Also called as actinic keratitis or ultraviolet keratitis

Photokeratitis

Photokeratitis is a medical condition that is characterized by intense ultraviolet damage to the eyes and may cause by natural or artificial source of ultraviolet light. A characteristic symptom of the condition is pain, one which may describe to being similar to having sand in one's eyes.

Any intense exposure to UV light can lead to photokeratitis. Common causes include welders who have failed to use adequate eye protection such as an appropriate welding helmet or welding goggles. This is termed arc eye, while photokeratitis caused by exposure to sunlight reflected from ice and snow, particularly at elevation, is commonly called snow blindness. It can also occur due to using tanning beds without proper eyewear. Natural sources include bright sunlight reflected from snow or ice or, less commonly, from sea or sand. Fresh snow reflects about 80% of the UV radiation compared to a dry, sandy beach (15%) or sea foam (25%). This is especially a problem in polar region and at high altitudes, as with every thousand feet (approximately 305 meters) of elevation (above sea level), the intensity of UV rays increases by four percent.

Photokeratitis can be prevented by using sunglasses or eye protection that transmits 5-10% of visible light and absorbs almost all UV rays. Additionally, these glasses should have large lenses and side shields to avoid incidental light exposure. Sunglasses should always be worn, even when the sky is overcast, as UV rays can pass through clouds.

Symptoms:

Symptoms:

    Irritation and foreign body sensation.

  • Eye pain and redness.

  • Swollen eyelids.

  • Seeing halos around lights.

  • Epiphora.

  • Photophobia.

  • Blepharospasm.

  • Lacrimation.

  • Blurred vision.

Diagnosis:

Diagnoses include Standard slit lamp examination with fluorescein in suspected cases of photokeratitis.

Treatment:

The pain may be temporarily alleviated with anaesthetic eye drops for the examination, however it is not used for continued treatment as anesthesia of the eye interferes with corneal healing, and may lead to corneal ulceration and even loss of the eye. Cool, wet compresses over the eyes and artificial tears may help local symptoms when the feeling returns. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) eye drops are widely used to lessen inflammation and eye pain, but have not been proven in rigorous trials. Systemic (oral) pain medication is given if discomfort is severe. Healing is usually rapid (24-72 hours) if the injury source is removed. Further injury should be avoided by isolation in a dark room, removing contact lenses, not rubbing the eyes, and wearing sunglasses until the symptoms improve.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

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

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