Can Tanning Beds Hurt Your Eyes?

June 21, 2013

There's no such thing as a "safe tan." Any ultraviolet radiation — whether it comes  from the sun or from artificial light sources such as solariums and tanning beds — can cause cancer.

In fact, the radiation emitted from many tanning beds may be stronger than the sun's natural UV rays. Recent studies have shown that the risk for melanoma (the most deadly skin cancer) is 75 percent higher in those exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning — and the risk increases with each tanning session.

Tanning can cause serious eye injury

But it's not just your skin you're harming when you use a tanning bed. Indoor tanning can also cause irreversible damage to your eyes. Damage that's serious enough to cause vision loss.

Here's what happens when you tan:

UV rays from indoor tanning or prolonged sunlight can cause photokeratitis (sunburned cornea), cataracts,macular degeneration and skin cancer around the eyes, among many other eye diseases.

Woman lying in sun

Some U.S. states — California, Vermont, Oregon and Nevada — legally prohibit minors under the age of 18 from indoor tanning; New Jersey prohibits indoor tanning for minors under 17. On May 6, 2013 the FDA issued an order for stricter regulations on indoor tanning devices nation-wide.

Remember, there's no such thing as a safe tan. That tanned look is not worth risking the loss of your precious eyesight.

Excerpted from All About Vision

Dr. Jeffrey Gold is the medical director of Liberty Vision in Hamden CT. The award winning surgeon has recently been named Best LASIK surgeon in The New Haven Advocate Readers' Poll for 2013, 2014 and 2015.