Sunscreen in eyes

It's essential to wear sunscreen every day of the year, regardless of whether it's summer or the cold, not-so-sunny winter months, and whether you're planning on spending time at the beach, on the lake, or even at the park. 

But watch out for the agonizing sting when sunscreen seeps into your eyes. Even though sunscreen doesn't permanently damage the eyes, it can cause chemical burns on the eye's surface that can cause discomfort for a few days.

Sunscreen in eyes in Manhattan

How should I apply sunscreen so that it doesn't get in my eyes?

The best way to prevent sunscreen from entering your eyes is to apply it carefully. Use sunscreen lotion slowly and carefully on your face, avoiding your eyes and eyelids. Mineral-based sunscreens, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, adhere to the skin better and are therefore less likely to enter the eye. Avoid applying spray-on sunscreen on your face. Be sure to keep sunblock containers out of the reach of children and apply their sunscreen yourself. You should not allow your child to apply sunscreen themselves since they may rub their eyes without washing their hands first.

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How do I get the sunscreen out of my eyes?

Wipe your eyes

You should wipe around your eyes first to remove any excess sunscreen so that it does not happen repeatedly. If you're wiping your eyes, make sure you don't get sunscreen in them. 

Flush your eyes

The next step is to flush your eyes with clean water to remove any sunscreen from them. Flushing your eyes can be done in several ways, including using a syringe or by cupping water in a clean hand and dipping your eye into it, you can also keep your eye open under a gently flowing tap. It's important to remember that, no matter how you flush out your eyes, you're going to feel some discomfort initially, but once it's out the discomfort will subside.

Applying a cold compress

You can also apply a cold compress to ease the pain. Make sure you use preservative-free artificial tears frequently for a few days. Avoid eye drops that contain preservatives, since the chemicals could irritate your eyes further.

The irritation should disappear completely within a few days, depending on the circumstances. But if you are still experiencing irritation, you should visit us at Amplify EyeCare Manhattan for a thorough eye exam.

Fortunately, not all sunscreens burn the eyes. There are two types of sunscreens – chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens provide great protection from the sun's harmful UV rays, but many of them can burn if they get near your eyes. The good news is that physical sunscreens also provide great sun protection but do not burn! Don't let the wrong sunscreen spoil your outdoor fun. Look for sunscreens whose only active ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. 

Why wear sunscreen?

Besides protecting yourself from sunburn (if your skin type burns), following are other reasons why you need to wear sunscreen:

  • The use of sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer.
  • Wearing sunscreen reduces premature aging.
  • Using sunscreen reduces the risk of hyperpigmentation.
  • Sunscreen helps prevent skin inflammation.
  • Sunscreen helps to prevent sun sensitivity.

Common Questions

In the event your child gets sunscreen in their eyes, please remember the following: Do not panic. While your child may be in pain, this pain will not last and sunscreen on the eyes will not cause lasting damage. When you appear scared, your child will be more afraid as well. By being calm, you will help your child remain calm. Wash your child's face with water. Get them to look up and gently pour water on their eyes with a cup. Our office or any local drugstore carries lubricating eye drops that do not contain any medications. These will help relieve any discomfort for a couple of days. In case your child is still experiencing some discomfort, try placing a cold washcloth over the eyes. If you're concerned for any reason or if you have any questions, you can call us at [mbv name="token-practice-phone"].
There are no reported cases of sunscreen causing permanent damage, however it may cause prolonged discomfort. In the even that sunscreen is causing protracted discomfort please schedule an emergency eye exam with our eye doctors who can reduce discomfort.
Sunscreen in eyes
Dr. Wernick cartoon

Schedule a Medical Eye Exam Immediately

If you have tried all the methods listed above to alleviate the pain in your eyes and flush out the sunscreen, but you are still experiencing pain or burn in your eyes, then you may want to schedule an appointment with us for a medical eye exam. To schedule a medical eye exam, call us at (212) 752-6930 or book an appointment here by clicking this link Book an Appointment .


  • At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.

    Cynthia Norton

  • Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.

    Steve Fay

  • Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.

    Mary K.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!

    Peter G.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!

    Kinkie F.



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