Reducing your risk for eye cancer

You may lower your risk of developing eye cancer by doing the following.

Don’t use indoor tanning equipment

Indoor tanning equipment, such as tanning beds or sun lamps, gives off ultraviolet radiation (UVR) that is up to 5 times stronger than the midday sun on a summer day. The Canadian Cancer Society believes that people under the age of 18 should not be allowed by law to use indoor tanning equipment.

Protect yourself from exposure to harmful substances at work

People who work in certain industries may be exposed to risk factors for eye cancer. Be sure to use all the protective equipment provided by employers and follow recommended occupational health and safety procedures.

Welders should wear a wrap-around mask and UVR-absorbing lenses to help protect their eyes from exposure to UVR.

People who work in the chemical industry, including chemists, chemical engineers and chemical technicians, should do what they can to prevent exposure to chemicals at work.

Protect yourself from the sun

Research suggests that exposure to UVR from the sun is a possible risk factor for eye cancer. Wear close-fitting sunglasses in a wraparound style with UVA and UVB protection. Wear a hat with a wide brim that covers your head, face, ears and neck.

Some studies suggest a link between melanoma of the skin and melanoma of the eye, so you should also protect your skin from the sun. Check the daily UV Index. Listen to the weather forecast to find out how strong the sun will be each day. Try to reduce your time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, or any time of the day when the UV Index is 3 or more. In Canada the UV Index can be 3 or more from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September, even when it’s cloudy.

Seek shade or create your own shade. Cover up as much of your skin as you can with tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

Visit your doctor regularly

Tell your doctor or optometrist if you have any unusual moles or changes in a mole on your skin or eyes. Be sure to get regular eye exams with an optometrist.

Find out if you’re at high risk for eye cancer

Some people can have a higher than average risk for eye cancer. Talk to your doctor or optometrist about your risk. If you are at higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor or optometrist more often to check for eye cancer.

More information about preventing cancer

Learn about what you can do to prevent cancer.

Expert review and references