Treating corneal flash burn

A corneal flash burn is a sunburn on the surface of the eye. It is also known as ultraviolet keratitis. The eyes, especially the cornea is susceptible to become damaged by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. the cornea covers the iris which is the colored area of the eye. It also focuses light on the retina and for protection of the deeper structures of the eye and function like the windshield of the eye. The surface of the cornea has cells like those found in the skin.

The cornea is the clear window of tissue found on the front of the eyeball is susceptible to damage when exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and other sources such as the welder’s arc, sun lamp, photographer’s flood lamps and a halogen desk lamp. The cornea takes the burden of the damage if protection of the eye is not worn such as goggles or dark glasses while skiing under bright sun.

corneal flash burn

Apply the prescribed antibiotic eyedrops or ointment for the eye to prevent development of infection of the damaged cornea.

Causes of corneal flash burn

  • Reflection of the sun on snow at high elevation or snow blindness
  • Sunlamp inside tanning salon
  • Halogen lamp
  • Welding torch
  • Direct sunlight
  • Photographer’s flood lamp
  • Lightning strikes that is too close
  • Reflection of sun light on the water


  • Blurry vision
  • Eye pain that can be mild and becomes severe
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensation of a foreign body in the eye


  • Apply the prescribed antibiotic eyedrops or ointment for the eye to prevent development of infection of the damaged cornea.
  • Apply the prescribed steroid eyedrops to lessen the inflammation and lessen the scarring.
  • Use a prescribed rapid-acting medication that keeps the ciliary muscles of the eye that results in a static and widened pupil. It will rest the muscles of the eye and lessen the pain due to muscle spasms of the eye.
  • Take the prescribed pain medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen and acetaminophen to lessen the pain and the inflammation.
  • Apply ice packs on the affected area to lessen the redness and the inflammation. It will also lessen the pain around the affected area. Avoid ice directly on the skin. Wrap ice pack using a towel or a cloth before placing to the affected area to prevent making the condition worse. Another alternative is dipping a towel in cold water or ice water and place it over the area. it will lessen the lessen the pain caused due to welder’s flash.
  • Use the prescribed over-the-counter artificial tears or lubricants to lessen the discomfort of the eye.
  • Cover the affected eyes using a padded dressing for fast healing of the area.


  • Remove contact lenses if experiencing pain.
  • Use prescribed artificial tears or lubricants to lessen the discomforts felt in the eyes.
  • Wear coated goggles or welder’s mask to protect the cornea from ultra violet light when welding. Make sure the eyes are completely covered.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on corneal flash burn is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this eye injury by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.


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