Eyes Are at Risk for Skin Cancer, Too

When you think of skin cancer, you probably don't think of your eyes. Yet increased sun exposure can cause cancerous growths both in and around the eyes. Though rare, these melanomas can cause vision loss if not treated.

Intraocular melanoma, in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the eye, is the most common form of eye cancer in adults. Like other sun-related cancers, lifestyle changes can reduce the likelihood of developing intraocular melanoma. The most obvious method of prevention is wearing sunglasses. The American Cancer Society recommends sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of ultraviolet A rays.

Intraocular melanoma is often found during a comprehensive eye exam. Symptoms include a dark spot on the iris (colored part of the eye), blurred vision, a change in pupil shape or a change in vision. Intraocular melanoma is highly treatable if caught early, but can cause glaucoma and even blindness if untreated.

When putting on your sunscreen before a day outside, don't forget to protect your eyes, too!

Sources: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society


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