16 ways the sun can

damage your eyes
Just as the sun can burn our skin, it can burn the surface of the eye, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is linked to serious eye conditions.
Let's look at how the sun rays can damage your eyes. [ Hover over the icons below to see each condition ]
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Below are different kinds of eye cancers due to life-long exposure to the sun:
[ Hover over icons for symptoms ]
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Basal cell carcinomas
This can appear as simple pigmentation, but more often it shows up as a red nodule on the upper eyelid. These tumours can grow around the eye’s orbit but almost never metastasise.
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Metastatic cancer
Metastatic cancer refers to the location of cancer that has spread from a primary site. When symptoms of eye cancer are diagnosed as secondary, this indicates a primary cancer elsewhere.
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Sebaceous gland carcinomas
One of the rarest forms of cancer of the eye, symptoms are similar to conjunctivitis or a stye on the upper eyelid, and are most common in middle-aged people.
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Merkel cell carcinoma
Highly malignant but quite rare, this form of eye cancer is more commonly found in women over the age of 50 and most often affects the upper eyelid. It usually presents as a purple-red nodule.
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Squamous cell carcinomas
This affects the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the eyeball, and rarely spreads beyond the surrounding area. Symptoms range from inflammation, visible tumour or lesions around the eye.
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Adenocarcinoma
Adenocarcinomas of the eye affect the pigment cell layer that feeds the retina and is usually only identified during an eye exam.
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Malignant melanomas
This can affect any area including the orbit, iris, membrane and skin around the eye. Symptoms are subtle and are usually only picked up during eye examinations.
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Malignant lymphoma
This form usually affects both eyes and can cause blurred vision, redness, floaters in the field of vision, sensitivity to light and, less commonly, eye pain.
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Kaposi’s sarcoma
Commonly found in HIV sufferers, transplant patients, and the elderly, this cancer presents symptoms of reddish-pink conjunctival tumour and, or, a purple tumour of the eyelid.
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Peripheral nerve sheath tumour
Affecting the soft tissue around the optic nerve, this can adversely affect vision. There are strong genetic links with this form of cancer.
‘Eye protection by way of sunglasses or goggles is recommended to prevent damage from UV light, especially when we are exposed to UV light for prolonged periods of time.’ Raj Das-Bhaumik, Consultant Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London.