Years of exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun can have damaging effects on the eyes later in life. It can also negatively affect the skin around the eyes. Melanoma is considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and can even occur on the iris (colored portion) of the eye. Since the facial area and eyes are most exposed to the rays of the sun, steps should be taken—even for children—to reduce exposure. This may be simply wearing hats to shade the face and sunglasses to protect and cover the eyes. Bad sunburn increases the risk for melanoma later, so sunscreen should be used whenever outdoors for any length of time.
People who have had a large amount of unprotected UV exposure over the course of their lives are at a much higher risk of age-related eye disease such as cataracts (clouding of the lens inside the eye) and macular degeneration (retinal disease). Sometimes sun damage is seen just as yellowing of the white part of the eye, which may not be sight threatening but is less than cosmetically appealing. So cover up this summer and use plenty of sunscreen to protect the eyes and skin around them.
Dr. Carney is available for all your eye care needs by appointment at Wallace Eye Associates by calling (318) 448-0221.