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8 facts about eyes and the sun

If you own a pool, chances are you spend a great deal of time outside. While you’re probably well aware that your skin needs protection, you might not have thought twice about your eyes, but you should. Neglecting to take proper care of your eyes while exposed to UV rays can lead to short- and long-term damage, including cataracts and cancer. Stay informed to better preserve your vision.

Here are eight facts about your eyes and the sun.

1. The eyes can get sunburn
Remember that your eyelids are just like any other part of the skin, meaning that they can get sunburnt. According to the American Optometric Association, your eyes are also at risk of developing what’s called photokeratitis, which can be as painful as sunburn. You may have it if your eyes are red and extremely sensitive to light. It’s a temporary state, but you should still visit your doctor to play it safe.

2. More sun equals more damage
This equation is simple enough. As the AOA explained, the longer you spend outdoors without protection over your eyes, the greater the odds are that you’ll wind up with a sun-related issue later in life. Reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration by wearing sunglasses that offer UV protection.

3. Light eyes yields a higher risk of damage
Just like people who are fair skinned have a higher chance of developing skin cancer, people with light eyes run a bigger risk of getting eye problems from UV rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation explained that this occurs because lighter eyes have less pigmentation, thus less of a protective layer from the sun.

4. Most eyelid cancer is on the lower lid
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, the majority of eyelid skin cancers take place on the lower lid. That’s the part of the eye that receives the most rays compared to other parts of the eye. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear sunscreen on your eye lids, but you should be aware of how much exposure they receive, and wear a hat and sunglasses whenever you’re outdoors – even if it’s a cloudy day.

5. Your corneas can get sunburnt
What’s weirder than the thought of your eyelids getting a crispy sunburn, is that your corneas can, too. The Skin Cancer Foundation confirmed this to be true and explained that this type of damage typically occurs from using tanning beds. Often, the UV rays penetrate the eyelids, thus burning the corneas.

6. You still need sunscreen
Even though you can’t put sunscreen on your corneas or retinas, you can massage it just under your eyes and around them without getting cream in them. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommended using SPF in collaboration with proper eyewear for optimal protection from the sun’s UV rays.

7. Inactivity may lead to loss of vision
Prevent Blindness pointed out that not taking action to protect your eyesight may eventually lead to deterioration with age. You may also develop a pterygium, which grows over the eye and blocks your vision.

8. There are better times to be outdoors
Thinking of eye care and skin care as two in the same can make it easier to comprehend how sensitive your eyes are. Because you likely know that you should avoid the sun when it’s the brightest for the sake of your skin, the same goes for your vision. Wolf Eye Clinic suggested minimizing sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you live in hotter areas, like San Diego, be aware that the sun may stay out longer than other areas, which means you should grab your hat and shades before heading out for an evening stroll on the beach.