For people who love the sun-kissed look, a tanning salon presents the opportunity to get the perfect tanned skin in a fast and convenient way. Just a few minutes on the tanning bed and you get that bronze color you always love. An attractive idea, particularly in the winter, but before you step into a tanning booth again, are your eyes adequately protected from indoor UV ray?
Most people know the importance of wearing sunglasses when going outdoors. Sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, as UV rays cause cumulative damage to the eye. Dr. Amjad Khokhar, who specializes in LASIK surgery at the Sugarland Eye & Laser Center in Houston, Texas, says it’s even more crucial to wear protection eyewear while tanning indoors. That’s because your exposure level to UV rays is increased several times over when inside a tanning salon.
How does indoor tanning put you at risk for eye damage?
Research shows that tanning beds or booths can increase up to 100 times the level of UV rays that you would get from the sun as these UV rays have near direct contact with your eyes. Closing your eyes along doesn’t protect them from exposure because UV rays penetrate through the skin of your eyelids. UV rays can damage the internal and external structures of your eyes.
What are the damaging effects of UV ray exposure to the eyes?
According to the FDA, exposure to overabundant levels of UV rays can lead to:
Photokeratitis (sunburn of the cornea) is caused by exposure to UVB/UVC, which some tanning lamps produce. Symptoms include pain, swelling of the eyelids, and blurred vision. Like sunburn of the skin, photokeratitis is a short-term issue that can be treated with a topical solution.
Cataracts are the clouding of the lenses of the eye, causing spotty or clouded vision. Cataracts can be surgically removed, but if left untreated, they can lead to blindness.
Macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that destroys your eye’s macula, leading to the loss of central vision. AMD is incurable, but certain treatments are available for management of symptoms.
Pterygium is a non-cancerous growth that covers the white part of your eye. If pterygium is causing discomfort or affecting your vision, your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops or laser eye surgery.
Preventing Eye Damage
Wearing eye gear that provides adequate protection from UV rays from all sides of your eyes is important for preventing eye damage. Wearing them, even if you’ll end up with a raccoon-like look later, is the only way to safeguard your vision. In some states, tanning salons are required to provide tanners with goggles. If you are not in a state that requires its tanning salons to provide free eyewear, they are also available for purchase from tanning salons online. Make sure your goggles fit well and have no cracks. Wear them even if you’ll end up with a raccoon-like look later. That’s a small price to pay for healthy vision. Also, limit the amount of time you spend tanning per session, or the frequency of your visits to tanning salons.
Sugarland Eye & Laser Center leads in providing premium LASIK technologies to Houston, Sugar Land, and the surrounding region. The Center’s award-winning medical director introduced revolutionary technologies such as iLASIK to the region. This technology is used by NASA astronauts, Navy SEALS and Air Force fighter pilots. At Sugarland Eye & Laser Center, you can now receive the same treatment. For more information, please call (281) 240-0478 or visit us at www.houston-lasik.com.
About the Author
Amjad Khokhar, M.D. is Chief LASIK Surgeon at Sugarland Eye & Laser Center. Add Dr. Khokhar on Google+ here.