Anderson Cooper recently shared a picture of himself on Instagram with a patch over one of his eyes after he was blinded while on assignment off the coast of Portugal.
The CNN host said UV light bounced off the water and burned his eye, resulting in 36 hours of blindness in one eye.
"I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire," People Magazine reported he said.
Janet Sunness, a retina and low vision specialist at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, said it is likely the ultraviolet light burned Cooper's cornea.
Sunness described the cornea as being like the clear crystal that covers the face of a watch. It is thick but also can be easily damaged. It also contains "loads" of nerve endings making it one of the most sensitive parts of the body, she said. That is why Anderson probably felt so much pain.
The possibility of burns to the cornea is why welders wear special goggles, said Sunness, medical director at The Richard E. Hoover Low Rehabilitation Services for Low Vision and Blindness.
The blindness likely occurred because the injury caused the eye to swell and accumulate with fluid, distorting his vision. Or the injury might have caused scattered light in the cornea, also making it hard to see.
Sunness said it is also possible for the sun to burn the back of the eye, but that doesn't cause the same amount of pain as damage to the cornea.
The cornea self-heals quickly so the treatment regimen is simple - just wait it out, said Sunness.
She also said there is a simple way to protect from such injuries.
"(Cooper) should note that he should wear sunglasses that have UV protection," Sunness said.