Wordless Wednesday…School Sun Safety Program


Protect Your Eyes from UV Damage and Ocular Melanoma

Not many people think about the actual danger and damage that UV rays can do to your eyes. Without daily protection UV rays could cause cataracts at an earlier age and other ailements. Wearing sunglasses, even during cloudy weather, is one way to help ensure that your eyes are protected. The question is, are they really blocking UV rays?

An ophthalmologist, Dr. Marc Wernet, tested glasses bought on the streets of New York. He found that the light tint sunglasses measured on a UV meter only absorbed 38% of harmful UV_meter_sunglassesUV light despite the sticker that says ‘UV 400 protection’. The darker tint sunglasses held true to their claim and absorbed 99% of harmful UV light. If you are unsure about how much UV light your sunglasses are actually absorbing then have them tested by your eye doctor.

Kids need more UV protection than adults

Just like in UV exposure to the skin children are more likely to be over-exposed to UV rays throughout their childhood, receiving up to half of  their lifetime UV radiation exposure by age 18. That is why it is important to teach children at an early age the importance of protecting their eyes and skin from UV damage.

What to look for in kids eye protection (Source: Eye protection tips for children)

  • Good UV protection. Find sunglasses labeled either as blocking 99 percent or 100 percent of ultraviolet light or as meeting “ANSI Z80.3” blocking requirements set by the American National Standards Institute.
  • A proper fit. For older children, bigger is better, larger lenses and wraparound styles offer more protection for eyes and skin.
  • Sports goggles, if your child plays often. Designed to stay firmly in place, goggles reduce the risk of injury from broken glasses.

Sunglasses for UV protection


Everyone is at risk for eye damage, even children. No matter what your skin color, race or age.


Eye damage in the form of cataracts, snowblindness, Pterygium, skin cancer around the eyelids and Ocular Melanoma are potential dangers for eyes that are left unprotected.

Read more about Ocular Melanoma (facts are from http://www.ocularmelanoma.org)

Ocular melanoma is the most common primary cancer of the eye in adults.  It is diagnosed in about 2,500 adults every year in the United States and occurs most often in lightly pigmented individuals with a median age of 55 years. However, it can occur in all races and at any age.

Called “OM” for short, ocular melanoma is a malignant tumor that can grow and spread to other parts of the body – this process, known as metastasis, is often fatal and occurs in about half of all cases. Although produced from the same cells in the body, called melanocytes, OM is different from skin (or cutaneous) melanoma and is not related to sun exposure.  Ocular Melanoma is the second most common type of melanoma after cutaneous and represents about 5% of all melanomas.

Uveal melanoma develops from the cells that produce the dark-colored pigment melanin, which is responsible for our skin’s coloring. These cells, called melanocytes, are found in other places in our bodies, too: our hair, the lining of our internal organs, and our eyes. So while most melanomas do form on the skin, it is possible for a melanoma to form elsewhere

OM is an aggressive form of cancer that can involve any of three areas of the eye: the iris (the pigmented area surrounding your pupil), the ciliary body (a thin tissue layer in your eye responsible for aqueous humor production), and/or the choroid or posterior uvea (the vascular layer of the eye between the retina and the white outer layer known as the sclera; this pigmented tissue full of blood vessels nourishes the retina).

Signs and symptoms of Ocular Melanoma are:

  • blurred vision in one eye
  • floaters (small floating spots in your vision field)
  • change in iris color or dark spots on iris
  • red and or painful eye
  • bulging eye
  • loss or peripheral vision

If you experience any of these symptoms seek medical care immediately.

Approximately 2,500 adults are diagnosed with ocular melanoma every year. There is no known cause, though incidence is highest among people with lighter skin and blue eyes.

The brown spot is melanoma.