There’s a reason we were told not to look at the solar eclipse last year: it could literally burn our eyes. And as it turns out, an eclipse isn’t the only threat that can cause this to happen. Unfortunately, Busy Philipps learned this the hard way. Yesterday, she posted a picture on Instagram of herself at the hospital after a serious health scare the night before. Her eyes got “sunburned.”
The actress was diagnosed with a super painful condition called photokeratitis—she described it as “shards of glass” inside her eyeballs—which results when the eyes are overexposed to UV rays.
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However, Philipps wasn’t basking in the sun, but rather working long hours at a magazine photo shoot with bright lights. After the shoot, she posted an Instagram story, saying, “I can barely see straight—I’m going to the doctor tomorrow. I’m having some sort of crazy allergic reaction. I can’t open my eyes. I’m going to try to lay down and close my eyes even though when I close my eyes, it feels like there are shards of glass inside my eyeballs.”
But the pain was too much to bear. She gave an update in her IG story the next morning: “Hey guys, is it cool that we just spent four hours at the emergency room for my eyes? I have photokeratitis. I sunburned my eyes from my photo shoot today. It’s so on-brand though. I get one big magazine cover, and I do one photo shoot, and I burn my eyeballs.”
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Largo, FL oculoplastic surgeon Jasmine Mohadjer, MD says photokeratitis is rare and usually seen with high doses of UV exposure, such as staring at an eclipse, welding, or sunbathing or laying in a tanning bed without proper eye protection. “It’s rarely seen with long exposure to photography lights, but the eyes can be very sensitive to this type of exposure, especially the retinas, and in this case, the corneas.”
With proper care from a medical professional, Dr. Mohadjer says the condition should heal in a couple days. “However, like a normal sunburn on the skin, the damage is cumulative. With repeat exposure, there can be permanent damage to the cornea and retina, causing permanent loss of vision, as well as cancers of the ocular surface.”
You only get one pair of eyes, so invest in that perfect pair of sunglasses you’ve been eyeing (no pun intended) and keep them protected!