July is UV Safety Month, a reminder to protect yourself from exposure to the sun's harmful rays.
Look at the sunscreen in your medicine cabinet or the pair of sunglasses you just bought, and you should see something in common. Both will tell you they protect you against UV rays.
Why is this so important? Exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is the most important risk factor for getting skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. UV rays also can cause lasting damage to your eyes, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and growths that lead to cancer, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Protect your skin and eyes from the sun's damaging rays, and you will protect your vision and lower your risk of getting skin cancer.
Who's at Risk
Skin cancer can strike anyone, but people who are most at risk include those with light-colored skin and freckles, blond or red hair and blue or green eyes.
A severe, blistering sunburn can raise your risk of skin cancer, as can your lifetime exposure to sunlight, the National Cancer Institute says. So even people who tan easily can find themselves at risk if they do it frequently.
Preventing skin cancer and UV-related vision problems start with protecting yourself from UV rays. Here's how:
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily.
- Wear sunglasses with lenses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB light. A wraparound style will protect the sides of your face as well.
- Put on a hat with a broad brim for the best eye protection. Choose a tightly woven fabric instead of a loose straw to shield the top of your head from sun damage.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants if possible.
- Stick to the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Avoid tanning beds. Artificial sources of UV light cause damage, too.
Pay attention to small changes your body experiences so you know when to see a doctor. Early detection is important for fighting skin cancer, and the Skin Cancer Foundation has suggestions of what to look for at home and warning signs to report to a doctor. For vision, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a baseline screening for eye disease starting at age 40.
You can find a physician through a search by name or specialty on our web site. Aventura Hospital and Medical Center also offers outpatient services for cancer care and ophthalmology. Aventura Comprehensive Cancer Center can be reached at (305) 682-2151. Information about eye disease surgery is available by calling the North Miami Beach Surgical Center at (305) 940-5100.