Ultraviolet burns of the cornea are usually caused by use of a sunlamp without eye protection, exposure to a welding arc, or exposure to the sun when skiing (“snow blindness”). There are no immediate symptoms, but about 6–12 hours later the patient complains of agonizing eye pain and severe photophobia. Slit-lamp examination shows diffuse punctate fluorescein staining of both corneas.
Treatment consists of binocular patching and instillation of 1–2 drops of 1% cyclopentolate (to relieve the discomfort of ciliary spasm). Patients typically recover within 24–48 hours without complications. Local anesthetics should not be prescribed because they delay corneal epithelial healing.