Common Eye Injuries You Can Get While Surfing: What You Need to Know

Surfing can be an amazingly fun water sport. Despite this, it’s also important to acknowledge that injuries are sometimes unavoidable. We previously noted that some of the most common surfing injuries include head injuries when your board hits your head, shoulder dislocations, and cuts from rocks or surfboards. Some of these can be addressed with first aid, while others are more severe.

However, there’s another part of your body you shouldn’t neglect while surfing: your eyes. They’re extremely sensitive and prone to injuries. Most of the time, the eye injuries you get while surfing aren’t easily solved through first aid. The worst-case scenario is you end up blind.


To prevent this, here are some common eye injuries that you can get while surfing and how you can address or avoid them:


Also known as ‘surfer’s eye,’ this condition is characterized by a clear, white, or pink-colored membrane that grows in the inner corner of the eyes. It spreads triangularly and can sometimes reach the iris or pupil. This results from excessive exposure to UV light from the sun. While it doesn’t result in immediate blindness, it can hamper your vision and prevent you from surfing safely.

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to prevent by wearing UV-blocking eyewear. The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists emphasizes the importance of wearing these since the country experiences an extreme UV index range of 11-15, particularly in the summer. This will protect your eyes from UV damage when surfing and prevent pterygium. The sunglasses from South Cali, including the Huntington and Coronado, have a protection rating of UV-400 for maximum defense.


Photokeratitis is like getting sunburn on your eyes. This is an uncomfortable and painful condition when your eyes are exposed to too much sunlight, especially when it bounces back from the water’s surface. While it only causes blindness in severe cases, it can prevent you from surfing and even seeing properly for days or weeks.

You can avoid getting photokeratitis while surfing by wearing sunglasses with polarised lenses to reduce the amount of sunlight entering your eyes. These lenses have a filter that creates vertical openings for light, so horizontal light waves bouncing off the water don’t affect your eyes. Oakley makes dedicated surfing sunglasses with polarized lenses that are also lightweight for maximum comfort. The Sutro Lite Sweep covers your entire eye area, while the EVZero Blades are among the lightest sunglasses you can buy.

Dry eye

Dry eyes result from prolonged exposure to sunlight, saltwater, and windy conditions at the beach. Although this seems harmless, dry eyes can make it harder to see when surfing because your eyelids will stick to your eyeballs. This can also distract you, causing more injuries like shoulder dislocations.

Bring moisture back into your eyes using lubricating eye drops with hyaluronic acid (HA). Compared to ordinary eye drops, these have better lubricating properties and performance since HA supplies nutrients to the eye and assists with wound healing—suitable for addressing eye surface abrasions due to dryness. The Hylo-Forte Eyedrops and Systane Lubricant Eye Drops contain HA and are available in most pharmacies, so you can buy them before heading to the beach.

Bruised eyes

The waves are unpredictable, so you can hit your eyes with your surfboard. Your injury can range from a light bruise to a black eye that will keep you from opening it. This may take weeks to heal, so you won’t be able to catch waves until then.

You can wear protective goggles to protect your eyes from your board and other elements. Speedo has been creating swimming goggles for years, and its Biofuse 2.0 models are among its most durable options thanks to its silicone and polypropylene material. Meanwhile, Aquasphere’s Kayenne goggles have wide coverage, so even your undereyes are safe.

Getting eye injuries can prevent you from surfing and permanently damage your vision. Keep safe by protecting your eyes with sunglasses, eye drops, and goggles while riding the waves!

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