Sunlight from Windows Causing Unprotected Eye Skin Damage?

I'm a 20 year old female with fair skin. I recently used about a pea-size amount of 0.05% generic Retin-A on my undereyes, crow's feet area and eyelids nightly for about 3-4 weeks. Whenever I went out/drove, I used SPF 15 on the eye area, and usually sunglasses too. When I stayed at home, I had no SPF and the eye skin was exposed to soft sunlight from windows. I don't use sunscreen on the eyes now and wear sunglasses that wrap around my glasses. Have I permanently damaged my eye skin? Thanks!

Doctor Answers 4

You can get sunburns through glass windows

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UVA light can penetrate through glass windows, so need to make sure to protect your skin even if you are driving or inside, but near windows.  Make sure to choose a sunscreen or moisturizer with sunscreen that contain UVA blockers.  Ingredients to look for include: avobenzone with octocrylne, mexoryl (trade name Ecamsule), zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide.   While topical retinoids, such as tretinoin, can help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in the long term, you must be careful when you use them because they can make you more sensitive to the sun!

Manhattan Dermatologist

Retinoids and the sun.

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There are two kinds of ultraviolet radiation that affect the skin: UVB and UVA. UVB (the one that causes sunburn) does not generally pass through glass whereas UVA (the one that causes skin wrinkles) does so with relative ease.  The amount of UVA that passes through depends on the type of glass and coatings. Although skin treated with retinoids can be more sun sensitive, your use of retinoids is minimizing any damage caused by the UVA  passing through the glass.

Adam J. Cohen, MD
Glenview Oculoplastic Surgeon

Ultraviolet A gets through window glass and can cause sun damage

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A perfect example of this is the more extensive amount of sun damage on the left cheek, usually the one sun-exposed on the driver side of the car. Since you were using Retin A which improves sun damage, that would minimize whatever little amount of damage you could have through windows in your home.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

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Photosensitivity and Retinoids

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The retinoids, such as Retin A can cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sun.  Bescause of this it is advised that reasonable sun precautions be used when applying this product.  What you are doing is reasonable and no permanent damage has been done.

Joseph Campanelli, MD
Portland Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.