Everyone of any age and any degree of skin pigmentation is susceptible to UV damage. Children are particularly susceptible to UV damage. People with light colored eyes may have an increased risk of certain eye diseases tied to UV exposure, including eye cancer. Some studies show that people with certain eye diseases such as retinal dystrophy may be at greater risk for UV-related sun damage.

People who have had cataract surgery

More than two million Americans have cataract surgery each year. During this procedure, the eye’s lens is removed, leaving the eye more vulnerable to UV light. The natural lens is usually replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL). Older intraocular lenses absorb much less UV light than ordinary glass or plastic eyeglass lenses. Manufacturers of IOLs now make most of their products UV-absorbent.

Intraocular lens

If you have had cataract surgery and your IOL is not the newer UV-absorbent type, be sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat for added protection. However, even if you have a new IOL, wearing sunglasses and a hat gives an extra measure of protection.

If you have recently had photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), you should also be careful to avoid sunlight.

People who take photosensitizing drugs

Photosensitizing drugs — drugs that make your skin more sensitive to light — can make your eyes more sensitive to light as well. You should discuss precautions with your ophthalmologist if you are taking photosensitizing drugs and wear UV-absorbent sunglasses and a hat whenever you go outside for as long as you take them. Some of the drugs that may increase your risk of UV sensitivity include:

  • Antibiotics containing fluoroquinolones and tetracycline (including doxycycline and Cipro)

  • Certain birth control and estrogen pills (including Lovral and premarin)

  • Phenothiazine (an anti-malarial)

  • Psoralens (used in treating psoriasis)

Anti-inflammatory pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium have also been shown to cause photosensitivity, though the reaction is rare.

People with light-colored eyes

Have blue or green eyes? Cover up with a hat and glasses to protect your vision. Some studies show that UV exposure and light irises may increase the risk of rare eye cancers, such as melanoma of the iris or uveal melanoma.

However, not everyone knows about the connection. According to a 2014 eye sun safety survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (conducted by Harris Poll), 54 percent of people in the United States reported having light colored eyes (blue, green or hazel), but less than a third of them that light eyes are associated with greater risk of certain eye diseases.

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