Why Wear Tanning Goggles?

Although tanning beds are known to contribute to skin cancer, many people don’t consider the harmful effects that these booths can have on their eyes and overall vision.

Tanning beds and eye damage

Tanning beds, which emit strong rays of ultraviolet radiation, are known for giving frequenters a golden glow that many associate with health and vitality. Although many know and understand the definite risk of skin cancer that is associated with the use of tanning beds, the likelihood of irreparable eye damage goes largely unknown.

Although tanning salons in the United States are required to provide sterilized safety goggles to their patrons, many tanning bed users end up leaving the goggles off during their tanning sessions and opting to close their eyes to keep out dangerous radiation. Because the eyelids are so thin, the harmful UVA and UVB rays emitted by the bed can penetrate through the lid and damage the eye without the patron ever knowing anything is wrong until the damage already has been done.

Photokeratitis and cataracts

The UV radiation emitted by tanning beds is associated with two major types of eye disorders in tanning patrons.

Photokeratitis, which is classified as a burn to the cornea, often started with what seems to be a white cloud that lingers over the person’s view for a while. As photokeratitis progresses and occurs repeatedly, sufferers will notice tearing, pain and scratchiness in the eye, swollen eyelids or decreased vision capability. Repeated episodes of photokeratitis can lead to blindness.

Cataracts, which are a thick, cloudy tissue that begins to grow over the eye, are also known to be caused by ultraviolet tanning bed light. These growths are aggressive and impede the ability of the eye to see properly. Cataracts need to be removed surgically in order to restore maximum vision in patients.

Other important risks

Other abnormal tissue growth around the eyes, known as pterygium, also has been reported. All abnormal growths must be removed surgically to restore sight.

Cancers in and around the eye have been reported with UV exposure, as have cases of severe macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the physical breakdown of eye tissue causing sight to fail. Macular degeneration is, for the most part, incurable.

Although FDA-approved tanning goggles don’t block out all of the ultraviolet radiation, when used properly, they minimize the risks to the eyes that are associated with tanning beds. Wearing goggles every time you tan is critical to maintaining the health of your eyes and overall sight.

Although tanning beds are known to contribute to skin cancer