Being a girl in state college who loves to tan, of course one of the first things I did here was sign up for a monthly package of indoor tanning. I tan indoors in my hometown too, and I used to wear wink-ease, which were little disposable eye protections for your eyes while tanning. Within the past year or so, I stopped wearing eye protection. I recently went to the eye doctor because my sight has gotten so much worse, and I think it is because of the lack of eye protection when tanning. So, I set to find out.
When you think about it, people always wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, so why not wear something when tanning indoors? It is the same idea. According to the Health Physics Society, tanning indoors exposes eyes 100x more than the sun does to ultraviolet radiation. In the tanning bed, the ultraviolet radiation has direct contact with your eyes. Photokeratitis is a short-term issue for your eyes from tanning. It is when your eyesight becomes hazy, your eyelid swells, there is eye tearing, and pain. Eye cancers can also be caused by indoor tanning, as well as skin cancers.
Another effect of UV light on the eye could be pterygium, which is when the conjunctiva grows on the surface of the eye. It could become harder for one to see because the pterygium now goes over the middle of the cornea, which is what you see out of. You can get rid of this through surgery, but it can keep coming back.
Philip R. Rizzuto, MD, from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, stated, “UV damage to the eyes may result in the development of cataracts . . . as well as cancer of the uvea, which is the middle layer of tissue under the white of the eye,”. (Eye Smart) Another problem that can occur is you can get a corneal flash burn. This is when a lot of UV rays cause your cornea to burn. The eye will then become watery, hazy, painful, red, or the eyesight could become worse.
Not many studies have been done on indoor tanning and eye damage. Scientists say it is harmful, but no actual studies (worthy of commenting on) have really been done. If I were a scientist researching this field, I would conduct a controlled experiment. It would not be able to be a double blind procedure because the controlled group would know if they had eye protection or not while tanning. I would get a large group of people, maybe 400, and test their eyesight. They all must have 20/20 vision and be in good health. They would all tan three times a week in the same level bed. Half of them would wear eye protection and the other half would not. After a month, an optometrist would check their vision once more. They would then report who’s vision worsened and who’s did not. This would be a very good way to test my hypothesis.
Next time you want to hit the tanning bed, think about how it could be affecting not only your whole body, but your eyes as well. After doing my research on this post, I think I have decided not to sign up for tanning next month…