Going Flat Out!

I receive many emails from tanners concerned about protecting their vision when tanning. Here is one about a common mistake that can easily be avoided.

Dear Brenda:

I had my first sunbed session yesterday and used the gold eye stickers. I did not put them on correctly and just stuck them like a sticker on my eyelid. I was in the tanning bed for eight minutes. My eyes were also closed the whole time – do you think I damaged my eyes?

Thanks for your help,

I responded:

Hi, Rob:

Thanks for your question – it’s a good one. I appreciate you caring about your eyesight enough to ask. Shame on the salon staff for not explaining how to use dispos-able eye protection!

The display box for every disposable brand has a diagram that shows assembly, as well as a photo of a person properly wearing the product. You’ll also find directions on the back of every pair, regardless of manufacturer. We recommend that salons display the stickers folded into cones placed on top of the box, so tanners see how to use them properly.

Luckily, disposables are a complete UV-block, so wearing the sticker flat on your eyelid protected you reasonably well, but didn’t block all of the ambient light that may reach the sides of your eyes. In addition, it probably created a big, white “raccoon eye” tan line, since the sticker covered more of your eye area than is necessary for vision protection. When folded into cones, the stickers block ambient light and you can see through them, allowing you to adjust sun- bed controls and check the timer without removing the eye protection. In a booth, vision is also critical for a safe exit.

The greatest danger to your eyes during indoor tanning is photokeratitis, or an eye burn, which causes redness, itching and watering.

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