©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Symptoms and Signs of Corneal Flash Burns

Doctor's Notes on Corneal Flash Burns

The cornea is the clear window of tissue on the front of the eyeball. A corneal flash burn (also called ultraviolet [UV] keratitis) can be considered to be like a sunburn on the surface of the eye. When proper eye protection is not worn the cornea may be damaged by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from other sources of ultraviolet light, such as a welder's arc, a photographer's flood lamps, a sun lamp, or even a halogen desk lamp.

Symptoms of Corneal Flash Burns may occur anywhere from three to 12 hours following exposure to ultraviolet light, and may include mild to very severe pain, bloodshot eyes, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing, blurred vision, or feeling as if something is in the eye. Most of the time, both eyes are affected but if one eye received more ultraviolet radiation symptoms may be worse in that eye.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.