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Deborah S Jacobs, MD
Section Editor
Jonathan Trobe, MD
Deputy Editor
Howard Libman, MD, FACP


Photokeratitis, also known as ultraviolet keratitis or UV keratitis, is an acute syndrome that occurs after ultraviolet irradiation of the eyes. The exposure may not be initially apparent to the patient, as there is a latent period (6 to 12 hours) between exposure and onset of symptoms. Although intensely painful, photokeratitis is generally a self-limited condition with complete resolution.

The presentation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of photokeratitis will be reviewed here. The general evaluation of patients with a red eye is discussed separately. (See "Evaluation of the red eye".)


Many recreational and occupational activities are associated with ultraviolet exposure and the potential for photokeratitis in unprotected eyes. Welder's arc burns and snowblindness are the best known examples of photokeratitis, but other exposures include:

Other recreational solar exposure


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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 30, 2016.
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