Tanning Beds: What's the Cost to Your Vision?

Now that summer is officially here, many people are starting to work on their perfect summer tan. There’s no doubt a nice tan is a bonus in the summer months, and thanks to tanning beds you can now get that sun-kissed glow year-round.

Much has been made of the damage tanning beds can do to your skin, but what about your eyes? How does the intense UV light affect your sight both in the short-term and the long-term?

Unfortunately, the tanning goggles or one-time-use eye stickers you can get from a tanning salon do not offer you total protection from the harm of UV light damage. In reality, it’s best to avoid tanning at all—for both the health and safety of your skin and your eyes.

Not only can UV light contribute to the development of cataracts, but it can also cause skin cancer and ocular melanoma.  Macular degeneration has also been linked to UV light exposure. Oftentimes these long-term effects may not show up until much later in life, when it’s too late to undo the damage.

Photokeratitis is a short-term example of damage from UV light. Photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn on the cornea of your eye (one of the most integral parts of your eye). While only temporary, photokeratitis can be extremely painful, cause swelling to the eye, and even result in permanently blurred vision.

The implications of UV damage to vision are not relegated to only the outdoors. The strong UV light from tanning beds can be even more damaging because of the high concentration of UV exposure. For this reason, our practice recommends you avoid tanning beds. It's a smart choice to make because your eyes will be much less susceptible to the UV light-related conditions we discussed today.

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