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Protecting Your Eyes from Skin Cancer and Other Sun Damages

by kelly / May, 31 2017 01:30

Photo of woman looking into the sun on beach with sunglasses

Your eyes need protection from the sun as much as the rest of your body. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, eyelid skin cancers – yes there is such a thing - account for 5-10% of all skin cancers. As part of our on-going series to support Skin Cancer Awareness month this May – here’s why and how to keep your eyes safe from skin cancer, cancer and other damages this summer and all year long.

Dangers of Sun Exposure on the Eyes

Over time sun exposure on your eyes and the surrounding skin can add up. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation this unprotected exposure can lead to the following:

  • Eyelid skin cancer – mostly occurs on the lower eye lid which receives more sun exposure and comes in the form of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma
  • Intraocular melanoma – more rare but it’s the most common eye cancer in adults and occurs in the eye
  • Conjunctival cancers – this cancer is on the rise, especially among older adults and is a cancer of the protective membrane covering the outside of the eye and the inside of the eyelids
  • Cataracts – it’s a progressive clouding and yellowing of the eye’s focusing mechanism and 10% of cataract cases are attributed to sun exposure
  • Macular degeneration – a deterioration of the central portion of the retina that leads to vision loss. One of the causes is cumulative UV damage to the retina
  • Keratitis or corneal sunburn – sunburn of the cornea due to excessive UV exposure

I never want to scare you with this information but I think it’s good to know the risks. It may help you or even convince your loved ones to understand the importance of practicing good sun safety.

Finding the Right Sunglasses

While the danger may feel overwhelming there is a simple way to keep your eyes safe – sunglasses! But note not all sunglasses are created equal. Below are some tips for finding the right pair that will protect your eyes:

  • Labeling on the sunglasses that indicates it absorbs or blocks 99-100% of both UVA and UVB lights. Ideally the glasses should protect against HEV light (high-energy visible light from the sun) as well
  • Enough coverage and close fit by the sunglasses so your eyes and the area around your eyes is shielded
  • Polarized lenses to eliminate glare – these type of lenses are good while driving, spending time out in the snow or simply on the water

Hopefully you can find a pair that is stylish and meets these criteria.

Other Ways to Protect Your Eyes

In addition to sunglasses here are a few more ways to protect your eyes:

  • Wearing a wide brimmed hat – the Skin Cancer Foundation suggest at least a three inch brim to block half of all UVB rays from your eyes and eyelids
  • Applying sunscreen – of course! Protect the area around your eyes with some sunscreen (and of course your face + body)
  • Seeking shade during peak sunlight hours from 10am to 4pm

Skin Cancer Prevention

For even more skin cancer prevention tips check out our Skin Cancer blogs and posts such as:

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