Protect Your Eyes from the Sun

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 29,467
    Laura D. Cook, M.D., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine describes the various eye conditions that can be caused by sun damage.

    Dr. Laura D. Cook: Hi! I am Dr. Laura D. Cook. I am an assistant professor of opthalmology at the University of Virginia and I am going to talk about 'How to protect your eyes from sun damage.

    'Host: What kind of eye damage can be caused by the sun?

    Dr. Laura D. Cook: There are a whole host of problems or conditions that can be caused by the sun's rays or the ultraviolet light emitted by the sun. Starting with skin cancer, just like skin cancer elsewhere is directly caused by sun damage, the same thing with the skin cancer around the eye or on the eyelids. There can also be skin cancer associated with the surface of the eye or the conjunctiva like we discussed earlier. In addition, more commonly there are benign processes or non-cancerous processes that develop on the surface of the eye directly associated with the sun. One is called Teridium which is just a growth across the cornea or on the surface of the eye and the other one is called the Pingueculum. In addition, cataract formation is accelerated by sun exposure. We talked a little bit about that earlier. Furthermore, you can develop burns the cornea or corneal burns from sun exposure. It's mostly seen skiers or snow boarders, it's call snow blindness. In the back of the eye or the retina, you can have effects from the sun. It's called solar retinopathy. When patients look directly at the sunlight, it can cause damage to the retina or pigmentary changes that can cause lasting visual changes and then lastly, a common misconception is that melanoma inside the eye, also called uveal melanoma is associated with sun light and that association is very loose and hasn't been proven whether the sun really has a direct effect on melanoma inside of the eye.