Do you know where your Conjunctiva is? That's the clear membrane that covers the white of your eye.
If you've seen kids with pink eye, that's the part that turns pink. Turns out, the Conjunctiva is getting some unwanted attention from researchers now because of a sharp increase in Conjunctival cancer.
John McPartland is among a growing number of patients diagnosed with Conjunctival melanoma, a serious tumor similar to melanoma of the skin. But instead of skin cancer, John noticed brown spots on his left eye and eyelid.
John was lucky. His cancer was spotted early enough for doctors to save his eye, but it's a lesson he learned the hard way.
"I always wear prescription sunglasses. All the time now. And I use, everyday I use a skin cream. You know, a 15 SPF skin cream. Summer, winter, at all times," says John McPartland, eye cancer patient.
"It's a sun-related tumor, and as people get older, the incidents will become more and more. We go out into the beach with all the exposed areas covered except our eyes. So, if you really want to complete your sun block , you should put on sunglasses with UV blocking," says Dr. Paul Finger, opthalmologist.
Dr. Finger also says that a study of white males shows the incidence of this rare cancer has increased 300% in the past 25 years, partly because we're living longer and that means more time in the sun. So, he says that's why sunglasses that block UV rays are more important than ever.
By the way, a general doctor can examine your eyes, but he may not check underneath the eyelids -- where some cancers develop. So, it's a good idea to see an eye doctor once a year for a routine exam.