Bright sunlight isn’t just a risk to the skin — it also poses serious risks to the eyes.

Although most consumers are savvy when it comes to sun protection for the body, most aren’t as concerned with taking measures to protect the eyes from these aging, burning and cancer-causing rays.

“There are risks,” said Montgomery Eye Care owner Dr. Mary Boname. “Sun exposure may cause cataracts to form more rapidly and increase macular degeneration. There’s also the chance for skin cancer around the eye, including the eyelid margin and the nose.”

But the sun isn’t the only culprit. Most people don’t know what to look for, or may ignore a spot or “pimple” hoping it will go away. Dr. Boname says it’s prudent to get anything new or unusual checked by a medical professional.

“Warning signs are anything with an irregular border, something that’s changed color or something that’s vascularized, where you can see blood vessels,” she noted. “In most cases, a doctor can use simple tests to determine if it’s a benign growth or something to be excised.”

In addition to seeing patients who have a concern, Dr. Boname also checks for sun damage during routine eye exams.

She’ll ask her patients about anything that looks unusual, including discolorations and skin tags. She refers patients with eyelid issues to a local ophthalmologist who has oculoplastic training and is well prepared to deal with cancers around the eye.

With the eyes, protection can be the best form of prevention. Dr. Boname emphasized the importance of wearing sunglasses throughout the year, but especially in the summer.

“It’s critical for everyone to protect their eyes with sunglasses that offer a good UV coating,” she stated. “People with fair skin and lighter eyes are particularly susceptible to damage from the sun.”

Another common issue Dr. Boname sees is rosacea, which can be exacerbated in the summer sun. The tell-tale red and flushed appearance is an irritation that also can affect the eyes and the eyelid margin.

Dr. Boname works in conjunction with the patient’s dermatologist or internist, and frequently prescribes oral antibiotics for these patients.

“My computerized records system makes it easy for me to report findings to specialists, and to track patients’ histories,” she explained. “I work closely with other medical professionals to make sure what I prescribe complements the patient’s current treatment routine. Paying close attention to detail and being aware of the different facets of my patients’ medical conditions is as important to me as providing excellent eye care.”

Montgomery Eye Care offers patients comprehensive eye care, plus a large variety of glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses.

The office is open Monday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hours may vary near holidays, so call or check out the front door, where any changes also will be posted.

Montgomery Eye Care. Montgomery Center, 1325 Route 206, Suite 24, Skillman. 609-279-0005, info@mecnj.com. www.mecnj.com.

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