Summer Sunburns and Your Eyes

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As summer marches steadily forward, doctors at Utah Valley Eye, a leader in LASIK and a top provider for Provo eyelid surgery see patients with sunburned eyeballs frequently. Fortunately, this condition, while painful, frequently resolves on its own.

Risk factors for sunburned eyes

Utahans enjoy a robust variety of outdoor pastimes, with the Big Five National Parks, mountains, fishing, and rafting. For a land-locked state, Utah has some fabulous opportunities for those who enjoy water sports. Other than the altitude, reflected sunlight off the water poses a significant risk for sunburns of your eyes.


The doctors at Utah Valley Eye advise that you should wear UV-blocking sunglasses whenever you are going to be outdoors in the sun for an extended period. Using hats to deflect sunlight can work when sunglasses are less convenient, but do not give much protection from sunlight reflected off water or other bright surfaces.

Starting early can help develop habits for your children. Introducing sunglasses to small children can be difficult, since many of the most popular sunglasses for children are themed with their favorite characters, making them seem more like toys than a safety tool. Persistence and being an example can help, and since we are parents too, we acknowledge that children can increase the difficulty of many tasks, so just do your best!


So, you’ve done everything you can to prevent sunburned eyes – or you haven’t, we don’t judge – and the whites of your eyes are red, swollen, and painful. What is the best treatment? At-home treatment with over the counter artificial tears can provide soothing relief. Pain can be treated with Ibuprofen or Naproxen Sodium. You should see improvements within three to five days. If you do not, contact your physician or one of our doctors at Utah Valley Eye.

It is important to note that when we are speaking of sunburned eyes, we are not talking about when you injure your eyes looking at the sun. This is a far more serious and can create permanent eyesight damage. Sunburned eyes manifest with swelling and redness on the whites of your eyes, while damage from looking at the sun can result in blind spots, etc.

If you have questions about your eyesight or want to discuss your options as a candidate for LASIK in Provo, please visit Utah Valley Eye.

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