Truth Behind Tanning Beds – The Risks and Benefits of Salons


One of the latest cultural trends in the 21st century has become the regular use of indoor tanning beds which helps to keep up a golden appearance. In our society today, being tan supposedly enhances an individual’s level of attraction, in both positive and negative ways. However, people need to consider the truth behind tanning beds.

While many doctors and dermatologists shun the usage of tanning beds because of the damage to the skin, fewer people are examining the dangers tanning beds can cause to the eyes. According to Ken Marlborough, author of “Tanning Beds and Eye Damage: What you Need to Know,” when a person tries to look at the sun, the cornea and lens of the eyes absorb ultraviolet radiation. This exposure to natural sunlight makes the eyes go into a defense mechanism, which includes constriction of the pupils and squinting. When a person goes into a tanning bed, which emits UV radiation under controlled conditions, the defense mechanism of the eye is minimal.

Some conditions, which could result from not using eyewear in a tanning bed, are photo keratitus and photo conjunctivitis. Photo conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and eye socket. The two conditions feel like getting painful sunburns.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the two conditions are not permanent and do not result in long-term damage to the eye or vision. The WHO also states that 20% of cataracts, which is the clouding of the lens in the eye, may result from overexposure to UV radiation. However, Marlborough says, the use of eyewear and/or just keeping the eyes closed while tanning, will not sufficiently reduce the risk of melanoma because the UV radiation is a well-established human carcinogen.

While it seems many people harp on the harmful effects of tanning salons, there is a great deal of benefits to usage of indoor tanning beds. Using an indoor tanning bed allows a person to control how much UV radiation they are getting. Also, tanning beds can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. UV rays also increase the amount of vitamin D in the body. A study of 1,760 women found that levels of vitamin D in the blood reduced the risk of breast cancer, according to William J. Cromie of the Harvard News Office.

In order to tan at tanning salons, it is mandatory and company policy that you must use eyewear provided by the salon or provide your own. Although they cannot police you once you are in the room, I highly recommend wearing the protective eyewear at all times. For many years, I frequented tanning salons and rarely wore the protective eyewear. I never gave it much thought until I researched the topic in depth. It opened my eyes to a better understanding of the positive and negative effects of tanning. I hope it does the same for you.

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Dusty DeStefano

Dusty DeStefano has over 20 years experience as a personal trainer and sports performance coach. He has combined his expertise with his personal dedication and philosophy of strength and conditioning, speed and agility development into a company concerned with getting results. See my profile page for more information!

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