Skin Cancer and the Eye

Approximately 1 in 5 people will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. Despite being such a small portion of the overall skin surface area, the eyelids account for up to 10% of skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are by far the most common types.

Risk Factors and Prevention

With an altitude of over 6,000 feet and over 200 days of sunshine per year, we are exposed to an incredible amount of UV (ultraviolet) energy in Wyoming. This UV light has been directly implicated in both tumor formation and growth. Prevention and early detection are critical.

UV protection can be accomplished by two significant interventions. Sunscreens over 30 SPF offer protection from these harmful rays, but can be complicated by potential irritation of the eyes. Another, often overlooked, method of UV protection is offered by the UV-blocking lenses in high quality prescription glasses and sunglasses. This protective effect of glasses is dependent on multiple factors, such as lens material, lens size, polarization, and position.

Lastly, early detection is important in the treatment of skin cancers. Skin cancers can vary significantly in their appearance, but any lesion that grows, changes, bleeds, or doesn’t heal should prompt evaluation by a provider experienced in skin cancers. Dr. Zachary Pearce is an eyelid and facial plastic surgeon who specializes in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment

Most skin cancers are best treated surgically. The eyelids are highly specialized tissue that protect the eyes and vision, and pose significant challenges when treating skin cancers. First, care must be taken to ensure the cancer is removed entirely to minimize risk of recurrence and preserve as much normal tissue as possible. Depending on the specific diagnosis and location, Dr. Pearce may suggest a multidisciplinary approach, with the assistance of a pathologist, or a dermatologist specializing in Mohs surgery. Second, reconstructing the eyelids should be reserved for an experienced surgeon who specializes in this area.

Dr. Pearce is an oculoplastic surgeon, and has specific training in the reconstruction of the eyelids and face for the treatment of skin cancers. Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pearce to evaluate any suspicious bumps around the eyes.

 

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