Overexposure to UV rays emitted by the sun is well-known to increase the risks of developing skin cancer. However, its effect on eye cancer still lacks enough scientific evidence.
Ocular melanoma, although a rare condition, is the most prevalent type of eye cancer. However, ocular melanoma is believed to have no association with overexposure to UV rays.
Can Looking at the Sun Cause Eye Cancer?
Looking directly at the sun has no known specific link to causing eye cancer. Although, UV rays cause a range of other eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, photokeratitis, and more.
Take note that overexposure to UV rays can also cause eyelid cancer and other sensitive skin surrounding the eyes. Eyelid skin cancers make up about 5%-10% of all skin cancers.
Serious Eye Conditions That Can Result From Overexposure to the Sun Are:
- Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the retina, specifically the macula, which is responsible for clear and sharp vision.
- Photokeratitis or also known as snow blindness is characterized by temporary loss of vision caused by a sunburned cornea.
- Pinguecula is a benign bump on the eyeball that grows due to exposure to dust and sun.
- Pterygium or also known as surfer’s eye is a growth on the eyeball that can disfigure the eye if left untreated.
3 Types of UV Radiation
- UVA rays account for about 95% of UV radiation that enters the Earth. This type of UV radiation can penetrate the cornea and reach the lens and retina of the eyes which may lead to cataracts and macular degeneration.
- UVB rays are the chief cause of sunburns, skin discoloration, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Overexposure to UVB rays is linked with causing snow blindness and the surfer’s eye.
- UVC rays are the most harmful to the eyes and skin. Fortunately, the ozone layer of the atmosphere can virtually block these rays.
Protecting Your Eyes From the Sun
The best protection is as simple as wearing protective eyewear that can block 75%-90% of the UV radiation. Choose sunglasses that can offer up to 100% UV protection or UV400 types for maximum protection.
Remember that UV rays are not only harmful in summer. It can damage your eyes during any season – even while raining! Moreso, if you are a type of person who spends a lot of time outdoors, wearing wraparound UV sunglasses is highly suggested. These cut down a good amount of UV exposure that can penetrate the eyes and the skin around the eyes from the top, side, and bottom of your glasses.