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Atrium Health Navicent Offers Tips to Protect Your Eyes and Skin this Summer

While summer days are long and offer excellent opportunities for having fun outdoors, physicians at Atrium Health Navicent Ophthalmology Macon and Atrium Health Peyton Anderson Cancer Center encourage the community to protect their eyes and skin from the sun and harmful ultraviolet (UV) light.

UV light is an invisible type of radiation that comes from the sun. While UV rays reflected off sand and water can cause eyes to sunburn, potentially resulting in temporary blindness in just a few hours, many of the harmful effects of unprotected exposure to bright light may not manifest for several years. Unprotected long-term exposure to bright sunlight can increase a person’s risk of developing cataracts, growths on the eye, eye cancers and other vision-stealing eye conditions.

“Especially during summer, it is very important to protect your eyes from the ultra-bright light of the sun,” said Dr. Monali Sakhalkar, an ophthalmologist with Atrium Health Navicent Ophthalmology Macon. “In addition to adults wearing sunglasses, it’s equally as important for infants and children to wear them for sun protection.”

When choosing sunglasses, read the label. Be sure to buy a pair that has a tag or sticker that says they provide 100 percent UV protection from all UV light, advises the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Polarized and darkened lenses do not equate to UV protection, although some pairs with these features do offer protection. Lenses should fit the face properly with frames that are close to the eyes. It’s also important to remember that sunglasses don't have to be expensive to be safe and effective.

Exposure to UV light can also lead to skin cancer, one of the most common types of cancer in the United States with 4.3 million adults treated annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

“Unprotected UV exposure also presents an increased risk, of developing skin cancer,” said Dr. Paul Dale, chief of surgical oncology for Atrium Health Navicent and medical director for the Atrium Health Peyton Anderson Cancer Center.

“Be sure to apply sunscreen before going outside and don’t forget to reapply it often. You should also wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses.”

Here are a few more tips to protect your eyes and skin from UV light:

• Wear a hat along with your sunglasses. Broad-brimmed hats are best.

• Stay in the shade as much as possible, under an umbrella, tree or other shelter.

• Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when you’re outside, even if you’re in the shade. Sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher should be applied in a thick layer on all exposed skin.

• Protect infants, children and senior citizens with hats and sunglasses. Everyone is at risk for sun damage.

• Know that clouds don't block UV light. The sun's rays can pass through haze and clouds.

• Sunlight is strongest midday to early afternoon, at higher altitudes and when reflected off water, ice or snow.

• Never look directly at the sun. This can damage the eye's retina and cause a serious injury known as solar retinopathy.

• Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds pose the same risks to your eyes and body as outdoor UV light.

If you’re concerned about a mole or another spot on your skin, see your primary care doctor. Moles that itch or change shape, size or color should be examined as soon as possible. Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center offers a range of services for all aspects of cancer care, from screening and diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship. The Cancer Center is accredited by the Commission on Cancer with Commendation – Gold Level. To contact the Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, call 478-633-3000.

If you or a loved one has an eye health concern or need to schedule a checkup, Atrium Health Navicent Ophthalmology Macon is here to help. Visit navicenthealth.org/op or schedule an appointment at 478-633-8033.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.