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Corneal Flash Burns


A corneal flash burn

is caused by too much ultraviolet (UV) light. The cornea is the clear layer of tissue that covers the front of your eye.

Eye Anatomy

Common signs and symptoms of a corneal flash burn:

  • Eye pain or pain when you look at light
  • Watery eyes, or a hazy, red, or cloudy eye
  • Swollen or twitching eyelid, or red skin around your eye
  • Eyesight becomes worse

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain.
  • Your eye is leaking blood or pus.
  • Your vision suddenly becomes worse.

Call your doctor or ophthalmologist if:

  • You have pain after 2 days of treatment.
  • Your vision does not return to normal.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


may not be needed. Your signs and symptoms may go away on their own. If they continue, you may need any of the following:

  • Artificial tears are used to keep your eye moist. Ointment is used to soothe and protect your eye. This will decrease your pain and help prevent your eyelid from sticking to your eye.
  • Apply a cool, moist bandage to your eye. Cover the bandage with a small ice pack to decrease pain.
  • An eye patch or shield can protect your eye as it heals.
    Eye Patch Eye Shield
  • Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain or an eye infection.
  • Surgery may be needed if your corneal flash burn has caused severe damage to your eye. Your healthcare provider may replace your damaged cornea with a new one.

Prevent another corneal flash burn:

  • Wear sunglasses and a hat when you are outside. Check your sunglasses for a label that says the sunglasses block UV light. Choose sunglasses that protect as much of your eyes as possible. Do not look directly into or near the sun. Wear a hat or a cap with a wide brim to shade your eyes from sunlight.
  • Wear goggles when you use a tanning bed. This will decrease the amount of UV light that reaches your eyes while you tan.
  • Wear proper work equipment. Goggles and helmets will help protect your eyes if you work with welding tools.

Follow up with your doctor or ophthalmologist in 12 to 24 hours:

You may need to return to have your eye and vision checked. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Corneal Flash Burns (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.