Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement, they serve an important purpose too

One of the most widely iconic styles of summer is a chic pair of sunglasses, but they are not all created equal. The Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) wants to remind Canadians that the eyes are at just as high a risk for sun damage and cancer as the rest of the body’s other sun-exposed areas.

“Our eyes are encompassed by some of the thinnest and most delicate skin anywhere on the body, making it easily prone to damage,” says Dr. Gordon Searles, CDA President. “I know first-hand the detrimental effects of what too much UV radiation can mean to our eyes, as I lost my left eye as a result of an invasive basal cell carcinoma a number of years ago.”
It is estimated that 81,700 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 6,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2013. Of these 6,000 new cases of melanoma it is expected that 1,050 people will die. Making it even more important to look and see whether sunglasses have a “UV 400” rating, meaning they block out 100% of UVA and UVB rays. You don’t necessarily have to spend much to get this kind of protection, but it is a matter of diligence to look into what you are buying and whether it meets the requirements to provide full ocular safety against the detrimental effects of UV radiation.
“The eyelids are very prone to develop skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Actinic keratosis, a pre-cancer that has a tendency of forming in the corners of the eyelids, can develop into squamous cell malignancies,” says Dr. Paul Rafuse, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Though not as common, melanoma can occur in the eye and according to the American Ocular Melanoma Foundation there are approximately 2,500 new cases of ocular melanoma are diagnosed each year in the United States. So as you prepare to head out to the beach to play volley ball or for a picnic in the park, remember to grab those snazzy UVA/UVB protectant sunglasses that took so long to pick out because they won’t do any good if you leave them at home.
About Sun Awareness Week 
The Canadian Dermatology Association has organized a nationwide Sun Awareness Week since 1989. The purpose of the annual campaign is to increase the awareness of Canadians about the harmful effects of UV radiation and the ways to protect the skin from UV exposure, in order to decrease the incidence of skin cancer in Canada. During National Sun Awareness Week, June 3 – 9, 2013, dermatologists will volunteer at free public skin cancer screenings and other community events. For more information, please visit
About CDA 
The Canadian Dermatology Association, founded in 1925, represents Canadian dermatologists. The association strives to provide easy access to the largest, most reliable source of medical knowledge on dermatology. CDA exists to advance the science and art of medicine and surgery related to the care of the skin, hair and nails; provide continuing professional development for its members; support and advance patient care; provide public education on sun protection and other aspects of skin health; and promote a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. By doing so, CDA informs and empowers both medical professionals and the Canadian public.

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