Tanning Beds and Eye Health



Eye Bogglers

  • There are about 50,000 tanning salons in the US. (2002)
  • An estimated 5% of the population are regular visitors.
  • Tanning without goggles may lead to a condition called eye arc
  • Charleston, W. Va. has highest density of tanning salons with a total of 18 facilities for a population of more than 53,000 (by comparison, the city has only one Starbucks and seven McDonald’s)
  • 1 million people tan in tanning salons on an average day, nearly 70 percent of them girls and women aged 16 to 29

Eye Damage From Tanning Beds- (All Tanning Beds.com) The constant exposure to UV radiation through the use of tanning beds can cause a certain extent of damage to the eyes.  Ultraviolet or UV radiation is emitted by the sun as well as other artificial sources. These rays can damage the eyes; affect the surface tissues of the eye and its internal structures like the lens and the cornea. Prolonged exposure to these rays can also lead to the development of cataracts, higher risk of skin cancer around the eyelids and numerous other eye disorders as well. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation can also have short term effects on the eyes, burning the front surface area of the eye, much similar to that of a sun burn on the skin. This type of short term effect can be developed during the course of normal daily activities including the reflection of the light off the pavement, snow and other surfaces.

The damaging effect of ultraviolet radiation on the eyes is cumulative. Spending extended hours under the sun without the use of sufficient eye protection can increase the risks for the development of a number of eye disorders.

These potential diseases are:

  • Cataracts. Cataracts are characterized by the clouding of the lens of the eyes and can blur an individual’s vision.
  • Snow blindness. Known as photokeratitis, snow blindness is the painful burn to the cornea, this condition is temporary and can be caused by numerous things such as staying at the beach without wearing protective sunglasses; reflections of the light off the snow, concrete or water; or exposure to artificial sources of light such as the bulbs and lamps used in tanning beds.
  • Pterygium. Pterygium is characterized by the presence of an abnormal growth in the corner area of the eye. This growth though usually cancerous, can grow and cover the cornea and cause partially impaired vision. The removal of pterygium is usually done through surgery.
  • Skin cancer around the eyelids. The most frequent kind of skin cancer that can affect the eyelids is basal cell carcinoma. This cancer causes lesions to develop on the lower lid of the eye, in the corner areas of the eye, the area on and around the eyelids, under the eyebrows and on nearby regions of the face.

Some cases of corneal infections and conjunctivitis have also been attributed to over exposure to ultraviolet radiation according to the Center for Disease Control or CDC.  Corneal Infections usually present with some redness, watering, pain in the eye, the presence of a white spot in the eye and photophobia or the failure to open the eyes in ordinary and natural light. Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is the inflammation of the part of the eye called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the membrane covering the white area of the eye. It also pads the inner surface of the eyelids.

Many varied authorities are warning the public about the possible dangers of tanning devices such as tanning beds. The Food and Drug Administration or the FDA has tanning beds on its list of probable health hazards, and the FDA, together with the Center for Disease Control or CDC has been continuously encouraging people to steer clear of the use of tanning beds, sun lamps and other tanning equipment. The American Medical Association or ADA and the American Academy of Dermatology are fighting and lobbying to ban the use of this type of equipment for purposes other than those medical in nature.

The adverse effects from tanning beds can be prevented by using sunglasses that can properly protect the eyes from UV radiation. These sunglasses should prevent about 99 – 100% of UVA and UVB from getting to your eyes. Get the sun glasses that are matched in color and free of distortion and imperfections. Use the safety goggles that are usually offered to be used in tanning salons when undergoing a tanning session using tanning beds or booths. These goggles will protect your eyes from the artificially produced UV radiation from the tanning bed lights and sun lamps.


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