AFTER his eyeballs were scorched on the job, ANDERSON COOPER is terrified he’ll go blind, sources say.

“Anderson is trying to remain calm – and even joking about it on TV – but despite the bravado, he’s really freaked out,” said an insider close to the silver-haired newscaster.

“He’s been ex­posed to the sun for extended periods of time covering news stories in the field over the years. Now he’s won­dering what the long-term effects of that exposure could be.

“Anderson’ s convinced he could lose his eye­sight for good.”

Cooper, 45, was blinded for 36 hours after he filmed a “60 Min­utes” segment in a coastal area of Portugal a few weeks ago.

Describing the incident on his syndicated talk show “Anderson Live,” Cooper – the son of socialite Gloria Van­derbilt – explained he’d spent two hours on the water during an overcast day, but the glare still had a devastating effect.

“I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire,” he recalled.

“It turns out I have sunburned my eyeballs…and I went blind for 36 hours.”

He posted a photo on himself on the Internet with a gauze patch over one eye, and experts who have not treated Cooper say he could be at risk for eye problems and even skin cancer.

“Long-term ex­posure to UV rays does increase one’s risk of develop­ing cataracts and macular degener­ation, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.,” Dr. Cary Silverman, a board-certified ophthalmologist in East Hanover, N.J., told The ENQUIRER.

“Cooper’s light-colored eyes and skin also put him at greater risk for skin cancer around the eye.”

Dr. Lawrence Hopp, an oph­thalmologist in Beverly Hills, Calif., added: “The type of radiation injury he incurred can be poison­ous to his cornea, and repeated exposure to UV radiation can also lead to skin cancer around the eye, along with the formation of cataracts and scar tissue.”

DOCTORS SAY it’s crucial to wear sunglasses or goggles, or at least a wide-brimmed hat, to protect the eyes in bright sunlight.

“Because he’s on camera, Anderson doesn’t do any of that,” said the source. “But NOW he’s convinced that as a re­sult he’s at greater risk for permanent eye damage. Even his mother is wor­ried sick.”