Q. I looked at UV light and got severe pain and tears in eyes. Should I seek medical attention?

Answered by
Dr. Manjunath Natarajan
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 21, 2019

Hello doctor,

Last night I looked directly at a 55 watt germicidal UV-C light for less than one minute. In the middle of the night, I woke up with severe pain in the eyes and tears and light sensitivity. After one hour much of the pain went away, but I am still very sensitive to light. I went to an optometrist a few hours later and he stained my eyes and said my corneas were irritated but it did not look bad. He gave me artificial tear drops and told me to use these for a few days. At that time I did not realize that the UV light was the cause, I thought it was my contact lenses. Currently, my eyes are still slightly painful and sensitive to light, but it is manageable. Should I seek further medical attention?



Welcome to

From what you have sent, I can tell you that you are suffering from a condition called photophthalmia. Its manifestations include corneal abrasions, which are diagnosed with staining. Other manifestations are inflammation and swelling of your eyelids, conjunctiva and blurred vision. This is a self resolving condition and resolves overtime as long as you do not continue to look at the same light source. The treatment for these manifestations (i.e. corneal abrasions, swelling of the eyelid and conjunctiva) remains the same whether it was due to light exposure or otherwise.

The important factors which may prevent the resolution include:

Contact lens wear, please wear glasses until you feel better.

Pre-existing dry eye, the treatment remains the same, but the condition persists for a longer time.

Secondary infections, may require you to be started on antibiotics and medication which dilate your pupils.

Home remedies:

Try blinking your eyes a bit more often.

Avoid exposure to the UV (ultra violet) light source.

Use over the counter analgesics like Paracetamol 650 mg if pain persists.

Kindly visit the optometrist in case if there is pain and redness increase, or your eyelids get stuck in the morning with a sticky discharge or blurring of vision increases.

The Probable causes:

UV light exposure.

Differential diagnosis:

Contact lens related dry eye.

Treatment plan:

Artificial tears, Cycloplegics, Analgesics.

Regarding follow up:

Follow up after a week/sos.

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