Eyelids…what? You read correctly, eyelid cancer. When we talk about protecting ourselves from the sun, from prolonged exposure to UV rays, what do we think of? Naturally, we tend to think of protection for our skin, particularly those on our arms and face. We will also think of protecting our eyes from the sun’s rays.
But eyelid cancer? We hardly ever think about that, much less thinking that it can occur to us. Yet, it is more prevalent than we think. According to Cancer.Net, a patient information website of ASCO – The American Society of Clinical Oncology, the eyelid is a common place that skin cancer is found. It adds, “About 85% to 95% of eyelid cancers in non-Asian countries are basal cell skin cancers. An estimated 70% of these cases occur in the lower eyelid. They can also occur in the inner corner of the eye, the upper lids, and the outer corner of the eyes.”
What is eyelid cancer?
Did you know that the eyelid skin is the thinnest and most sensitive part of our body? It measures only 0.5 mm and is easily damaged by exposure to the sun’s rays. The eyelid is also one of the most common part of our skin to contract cancer. Research has shown in that about 5-10% of all skin cancers occur on the eyelid. Although in most instances, the type of cancer that occur around the eyelids are localised, we still have to act to prevent it from happening. The remaining types of eyelid cancers are more aggressive and can spread to other parts of our body, especially to nearby lymph nodes.
Incidentally, the upper eyelid has less occurrence of cancer compared to the lower eyelid. The lower eyelid accounts for about 70% of all eyelid cancer.
What are the risk factors for eyelid cancer?
As mentioned, the eyelid has the thinnest skin on our body, so it is extremely sensitive to damage from exposure to the sun and other factors. Apart from damage caused by the sun’s UV radiation, let's examine what some of these additional risk factors are:
- Firstly, age is a factor. It appears that most skin cancers appear after the age of 50. While we can’t do anything about our age, we can take some precautions in protecting ourselves.
- Next, our medical history plays a part. If we have a history of sunburns or that our skin is extremely sensitive, then further prolonged exposure to the sun can increase our risk of eyelid cancer.
- If you love having a tan using indoor sun tanning beds, take note: exposure to ultra violet rays produced by sun tanning beds is a factor to skin cancer. Despite the dangers, use of sun tanning beds are still common for people living in northern European countries and the USA. Excessive and frequent use may result in skin cancer, including cancer of the eyelid.
- People who have fair skin or light-coloured eyes are also more susceptible to skin cancer. Our skin pigment, melanin, protects the skin against UV radiation. Generally speaking, people with light-coloured eyes and fair skin have less melanin and are more likely to develop eyelid cancer.
How can we prevent eyelid cancer?
Even though you may be one of those people with the above-mentioned risk factors, the good news is you need not develop eyelid cancer. As they say, “prevention is better than cure.” What are some steps that we can take to prevent eyelid cancer? Here are some suggestions:
- Use Sunscreens and moisturizers when we plan to be out and about. As we have noted, the skin around our eyes, including the eyelids are very sensitive. So, look for formulation that are made specially for use on skin around the eyes. Choose sunscreens that are at least SPF 30 for your daily use.
- Wear hats! Wearing hats these days may be out of fashion but there are very useful to preventing eyelid cancer. Experts recommend choosing hats with at least a 3-inch brim to shelter UV rays from your eyelids and eyes.
- And the final recommendation….drumroll please…Sunglasses! Sunglasses protect not just the eyes, but also your eyelids. Naturally, you will need to choose shades that offer strong UV protection.
The wayfarer style of sun shades, such as those carried by Sunday Shades Co, offer superb protection for your eyes and eyelids. Visit our online store today, and order a pair today!