A nicely dressed, young woman wears sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect her eyes from the summer sun

Protect Your Eyes, Wear Sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses whenever you’re outside is a good way to help prevent skin and eye cancers caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

A pair of fashionable sunglasses come in handy when it’s bright outside, but those snazzy shades can do more than keep the sun out of your eyes. Specifically, they can block UV radiation that your eyelids can’t stop.

“Eyelids help protect the eyes in many ways, but that skin area is thin, fragile, and vulnerable to UV light,” says Angela Quick, MS, Director of Oncology at the Prevea Cancer Center at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “UV light exposure can lead to skin cancers of the eyelid, which account for 5% to 10% of all skin cancers.”

In addition, UV radiation can cause problems underneath the skin. Long-term overexposure to UV radiation can increase your risk of eye cancers, including intraocular melanoma and conjunctival cancer. UV radiation can also contribute to the development of cataracts, macular degeneration, and other conditions that can affect or effectively eliminate your vision.

“Sun and UV damage can happen at any time of the year, even during overcast weather,” Quick says. “The best defense against UV rays is to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats whenever you’re outside.”

What to Look For

When you shop for sunglasses, choose a pair with more than fashion impact in mind.

“Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays,” Quick says. “Sunglasses are usually labeled to show whether they offer this protection.”

According to the American Optometric Association, about half of all consumers do not check the UV protection level of the sunglasses they purchase. Don’t settle for anything less than 100% protection against both UVA and UVB light. Some sunglasses may be marked with “UV 400,” which means they provide 100% protection against both types of UV rays.

And always remember to wear sunscreen along with your sunglasses.

“Look for broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher,” Quick says.

Early detection and treatment of cancer can help improve your chance of survival. Don’t hesitate to visit your primary care provider, dermatologist, or ophthalmologist if you notice these warning signs of skin or eye cancer:

  • Eyelid inflammation that doesn’t respond to medication
  • Persistent red eye
  • Skin discoloration
  • Unexplained growths on the face
  • Unexplained loss of eyelashes
  • Unusual lumps, bumps, and lesions
 Visit the Prevea Cancer Center at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital or call 715.717.3929 to learn more about the Prevea Cancer Center at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital.

You may also be interested in “Serene Environment Supports Healing for Cancer Center Patients.”