Summer sun protection

I faced down skin cancer once. A few years ago a reoccurring patch of acne turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, I had a large portion of my nostril removed, and skin taken from my cheek was used as a graft. It was extremely painful, is noticeable, and leaves me at a higher risk for additional cancers In the future. The cause? Sunburns as a child. As you might expect, I’m hyper vigilant about my skin and my children’s skin too.

You can find my kids in a crowded park in late August by looking for the kids with the brightest, whitest skin. I slather the kids, and ourselves, in sunscreen all summer long, choosing to use Vitamin D supplements over sun exposure. (Check out this Upworthy video of how sunscreen protects your skin.)

But until my dermatologist asked about my sunglasses usage, it never occurred to me that I should be as careful with my eyes as I am with my nose. I began doing some research, and realized how careless I’ve been by not wearing sunglasses religiously.

“The fairer your skin, the greater your age, and the lighter your eyes, the higher your long-term risk, especially if your work or recreation involves prolonged sunlight exposure. Light eyes are at increased risk for skin cancer and certain eye diseases because they contain less of the protective pigment melanin.” Protect Your Eyes

Not protecting my eyes means I’m at higher risk for a second round of basal cell carcinoma and for macular degeneration, which my grandfather suffered from.

I wear glasses, and prefer them to my contacts. That’s meant I’ve often gone without sunglasses on, even on the brightest day. I didn’t have prescription sunglasses, finding the two pairs I had tried too dark, and frankly, really ugly.

When XPerio offered to send me a pair of their prescription polarized sunglasses, I happily agreed. My research had shown me they were a very high-end brand with complete UV protection, and that they would cut glare without simply darkening everything out.

Their marketing material claims that Xperio UV lenses take outdoor vision protection to a whole new level, with superior colour, clarity and optics and unparalleled UV protection.

The minute I put my new sunglasses on, I was sold. I can’t believe I lived so long without them. They provide exactly the right amount of darkening to cut glare, without changing the shade of the world around me. In fact, I often don’t bother switching them when I go inside, so running errands doesn’t mean switching back and forth from sunglasses to my regular glasses.

I was able to choose from hundreds of frames at my local optician’s office, where I was custom fitted. I picked a Tiffany frame with their classic blue that I love and that suits my face perfectly.


I used to buy cheap sunglasses, thinking that I would just lose or scratch them anyway. Trust me though – when you have nice sunglasses you love, you take care of them! And if I’m not as careful as I should be, they are scratch resistant and can take a little abuse.

I’d like to hear from you. Are you as cautious with your eyes as you are with your skin? Are you as cautious with your skin as you should be? Do you wear sunglasses religiously? If you wear glasses, do you have prescription sunglasses?

7 Comment

  1. Thea says: Reply

    This is what reading blogs is all about. It is nice to get great ideas but it is also excellent to share and inform others important information like this. Your story about your cancer scare made it real and had me thinking not to take the sun and what it can do for granted. Thank you!

  2. Vicki says: Reply

    I’m a dedicated sunglass wearer. I had Lazik vision correction in the mid 90’s when I was in my mid 20’s. I started loving sunglasses because without the need for a prescription it was suddenly so easy to buy them. Then a few years ago my mum was diagnosed with ocular lymphoma. It gives me a little piece of mind to know that even if genetics are against me my love of sunglass fashion is on my side.

  3. Yes, (hand waiving in the air) I always, always wear sunglasses and my favourites just broke yesterday too. I’ll check out those Xperios, they do look great!

  4. Tara says: Reply

    Wow! I’m a blue-eyed blonde and I am hyper-vigilant about sun exposure (and my kids’ sun exposure too). How did you know that your “acne” was skin cancer? I’m so curious.

    1. Sarah says: Reply

      Tara, I went to two doctors who both told me it was simply pregnancy acne. After waiting through the whole pregnancy and nursing, I finally insisted on a referral to a dermatologist. I went for the appointment expecting to get a prescription for cream, and instead he took a scapel and took a sample right then and there! Within a week I was having part of my nose removed. I now see my dermatologist religiously.

  5. Katie says: Reply

    I had no idea you’d had skin cancer, Sarah! I tossed all of my cheap-o sunglasses. This is something that had never occurred to me before!

  6. Wow Sarah thank you for sharing your story – I had no idea you went through this! I lost my prescription sunglasses last summer so this is the kick in the pants I need to get a new pair!

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