Long-term exposure to UV rays can cause serious eye damage.

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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Summer is finally upon us. As we spend more time outside soaking up the sun, we are always reminded to protect our skin from ultraviolet rays.

Dr. Andrea Morris of GW Medical Faculty Associates says, "Besides avoiding direct sunlight, sunscreen is very important. We recommend that a person wear an SPF 30 or higher everyday."

We also need to protect our eyes. Long-term exposure to UV rays can cause serious eye damage, including damage to the retina, a higher risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and melanoma of the eye, the most common type of eye cancer that arises in adults.

Optometrist Geneva Cleveland of GW Medical Faculty Associates says, "Individuals with light complexion and light colored eyes are more at risk but anyone can get affected by this. A lot of times unfortunately it is asymptomatic in its early stages. The only way to know for certain if you have a melanoma is to have a dialated eye exam.

In the meantime, she suggests wearing sunglasses or contacts that absorbs 99 percent of the radiation. Swimmers, don't forget sunrays also penetrate our eyes underwater. Cleveland suggests wearing goggles that protect from UV rays, some also come with prescribed lenses.

(Editor's note: The original article noted melanoma as the most common type of eye cancer, that has been changed to the most common type of eye cancer to arise in adults.)

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