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Your Eyes and Sunburn

In the United States, skin cancers are more common than all other types of cancer combined. The dermatological community has done an excellent job educating the public about the dangers of sun exposure and the importance of sunscreens, but few people realize that their eyes also need protection from the sun.

Just as the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays cause familiar changes in our skin (wrinkles, thinner skin, dark spots, dryness, larger pores, and even cancer), those rays can also cause changes in our eyes. UV-damaged eyes can appear dull, cloudy, or even discolored. The whites of the eyes may take on a reddish or yellowish appearance, and over time cataracts can develop. There are even certain growths that can appear as a result of UV damage, and they may cover parts of the iris (the colored part of the eye) and pupil.

Eyes, like skin, are vulnerable to sunburn, and a day at the beach without proper eye protection can leave you with stinging, red, dry eyes. Although the pain usually resolves within a few days, many years later that sun damage can cloud your vision, or even result in dangerous eyelid cancers. Bottom line…protect those eyes!

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