Cancer and pre-cancerous lesions are common among individuals who spend a lot of time in the sun, and golfers are certainly no exception. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. The good news is that there are simple and effective strategies to help you enjoy your beloved pastime while still maintaining healthy skin and eyes.
Get Your Skin In The Game
The first and most obvious solution to protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is to apply sunscreen. According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, you should select a product that provides protection from both UVA and UVB ultraviolet light. A broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum sunscreen is formulated to protect you from both. There are misconceptions about the SPF factor in sunscreen. For example, an SPF of 30 isn’t twice as effective as SPF 15. In fact, a broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF of at least 15, used prior to the expiration date, can be quite effective at preventing sunburn and reducing your risk of developing skin cancer.
More important than the actual number is the way you apply sunscreen. Dermatologists advise applying it liberally to all exposed areas at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, and re-applying at least every two hours. If you are a golfer who perspires heavily, reapply sunscreen more frequently. It is also important to apply sunscreen to any exposed areas of your scalp, or wear a hat or cap.
Remember that even morning tee times eventually put you in the zone where the sun is most concentrated, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so come prepared with plenty of protection even if you are beginning your round early.
Eyes on the Links
The same ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn can also seriously damage your eyes. One of the most common results of extended sun exposure is cataracts, which cause cloudy vision due to the loss of transparency in the lens of the eye. Many report that even after surgery to remove cataracts, their vision is not completely restored, so prevention is key. Macular degeneration and cancer around the eye can also be caused by too much sun, so it is important to consistently wear the proper protective eyewear when golfing. You may find it preferable to remove sunglasses to take your shot, but wear them all the time in between. Ophthalmologists recommend polarized lenses that block at least 98 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, and frames that provide sufficient coverage along the sides near your temple.
Cap It Off
You may not receive logo sponsorship offers of $100,000 or more like English golfer Robert Rock, but you should still wear protective headgear while golfing. Rock has said he finds hats and caps hot and uncomfortable due to his thick hair, but they do offer unparalleled protection for both the eyes and the face. Fashion and your own preferences may guide you toward a particular design, but of course the wider the brim, the more protection you will receive.
There is no need to fear the sun even if you golf on a daily basis. Just remember to arm yourself with protective clothing, accessories and sunscreen. You should also speak to your doctor or dermatologist for recommendations on skin cancer screenings, as early detection is very important.