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Photophthalmia /pho·toph·thal·mia/ (fōt″of-thal´me-ah) is ophthalmia or inflammation of the eye, especially of the cornea and conjunctiva due to exposure to intense light of short wavelength (as ultraviolet light), as in snow blindness.

It involves occurrence of multiple epithelial erosions due to the effect of ultraviolet rays, especially between 311 and 290 nm. Snow blindness occurs due to reflection of ultraviolet rays from snow surface. Photoretinitis is another form that can occur due to infra-red rays (eclipse burn of retina).

Clinical features

It can present with the following:

- severe burning pain

- lacrimation

- photophobia

- blepharospasm

- swelling of palpebral conjunctiva

- retrotarsal folds


Crooke’s glass is a prophylactic aid consisting of a spectacle lens combined with metallic oxides to absorb ultraviolet or infrared rays and should be used by those who are prone to exposure e.g. Welding workers, cinema operators.


The following may provide relief:

- Cold compresses

- Pad and bandage with antibiotics drops for 24 hours, heals most of the cases

- anaesthetic drops should not be used

- Oral analgesics if pain is intolerable

- Single dose of tranquilizers