Busy Philipps has been diagnosed with sunburned eyes after doing a 10-hour photo shoot for a new magazine cover.
The 38-year-old actress, who has recently burst back into the limelight as a star of Instagram stories, shared her mysterious ordeal with fans last night, weeping uncontrollably from agonizing pain that felt like ‘shard of glass inside’ her eyeballs.
After hours of trying to cool her eyes with cool water napkins and taking allergy medicine, as some fans had suggested, Philipps went to the ER where she was diagnosed with photokeratitis, inflammation of the cornea caused by exposure to bright light.
The condition, she discovered, is particularly common among people with blue eyes, including blue-eyed CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who came down with it in 2012 after spending 36 hours on a sun-soaked yacht in Portugal.
Ever self-deprecating, Philipps poked fun at her misfortune in an Instagram story driving home from the hospital at 5.20am: ‘It’s so on-brand… I get one big magazine cover and I do one photo shoot and I burn my eyeballs.’
Agony: Busy Philipps, 38, posted this photo on Instagram on Tuesday after a night in the ER, ending in doctors diagnosing her with photokeratitis, sunburn of the eyes
Photokeratitis can hit anyone with overexposure to intense ultraviolet light, whether they’re on a beach, in the mountains or in front of stage lights.
Skiers call it ‘snow blindness’, while welders call it ‘arc eye’.
Usually it happens when the light reflects off something – snow, water, sand, a white board – and burns the cornea, which is a dome protecting the eye.
The effects of photokeratitis are temporary, much like a sunburn.
But while they do not cause blindness or other lingering conditions, the symptoms are excruciating.
Some feel temporarily blinded. Some, like Philipps, feel a stabbing sensation. Some describe a feeling of ‘grit’ inside their eyelids.
People with blue eyes are more sensitive to all eye condition, since there is less pigment in the eye, so more light is let in.
They have higher risk of age-related macular degeneration, rosacea-related eye issue, and – of course – photokeratitis.
Philipps’ ordeal began at around 6pm on Monday, when she went for dinner with her husband, writer and director Marc Silverstein, in LA before they were due to see a band, Super Organism.
The actress and Instagram star took her fans through every step of the agonizing ordeal
CAN YOU PREVENT PHOTOKERATITIS?
In order to prevent the condition, it is important to protect your eyes by looking away from the sun or using sunglasses that filter out UV rays.
For those on a photo shoot, it’s important to give your eyes as much of a rest from the bright lights as possible.
If you’re in the sun, you need shades. But not all sunglasses are made equal: some will block UV and some aren’t so good at it.
UV rays measure between 320 and 390 nanometres.
If sunglasses carry a CE mark that means they should allow no more than five percent of UV rays below 380 nanometres to get through.
Another common sign on sunglasses is something that says ‘UV 400’. That means that the glasses should, in theory, block out all UV rays below 400 nanometers.
Half-way through the dinner, however, Philipps started spontaneously crying.
At first, she found it funny, posting an Instagram story about this apparently new bizarre social habit she had developed.
She said: ‘I used to have a boyfriend who used to hate how loud I laugh in restaurants, but now I cry a lot in restaurants. And Marc just said… what would that guy have done?
‘Now I can’t even remember what I was crying about. I was legitimately crying three seconds ago.
‘Can you see it? It’s happening again. This who I am… crying in restaurants.’
She added: ‘This is who my mom is, Barbara Philipps. You can see how we turn into our mothers. Thanks mom.’
But an hour later, still at the restaurant, her condition started to deteriorate.
‘Now I’m just holding napkins dipped in cold water to my eyes as cold compresses because they’re swelling I can’t even see straight,’ she said, insisting: ‘I’m going to the doctor tomorrow.’
Eventually, she had to go home, and around 8pm she posted a video in agony.
‘Guys I’m having a crazy allergic reaction, we were meant to go see a band tonight – Super Organism, who I love. I had to come home, I can’t even open my eyes, it feels like there are shards of glass.’
She explains that she couldn’t go to the doctor that day because she was doing a photo shoot from 8.30am to 6pm, at which point she had to meet Marc for dinner.
Instead, she was following fans’ advice, taking anti-allergy pills Zirtek and Benadryl, but nothing was doing the trick.
Philipps, pictured at a Levi’s event last Thursday, found that she has a higher risk of the condition because she has blue eyes
Fellow victim: Famously blue-eyed CNN anchor Anderson Cooper contracted photokeratitis in 2012 after spending 36 hours on a sun-soaked yacht in Portugal
Finally, she posted at around 11pm: ‘Ok I’m going to go to bed and close my eyes even though when I close my eyes it feels like there are shards of glass inside them. I’ll update you tomorrow after I go to the doctor.’
Eight hours later, at 5.20am, fans were met with an answer to the mysterious ordeal.
Philipps, driving in the dark with sunglasses on, said: ‘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 photoshoot today.’
Her doctor told her Anderson Cooper had it, and that it’s particularly risky for people with blue eyes.
As a lasting warning to fans, Busy, who runs a health podcast, said: ‘Gotta be careful out there guys when you’re…doing photo shoots… or on yachts.’