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Tanning and Excessive Sun Exposure Can Cause Severe Damage to Eyes
Date:4/30/2008

Prevent Blindness America Warns Public on Dangers of UV Rays to Vision

CHICAGO, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- As the weather begins to warm, some Americans may want to head to their local tanning salon to get a good "base tan" before they don their bathing suits and shorts. But without the proper protection, tanning beds can cause serious burns, not just to the skin but to the eyes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 1 million Americans use tanning salons every day.

Unfortunately, some people believe that tanning beds are safer than tans from the sun, but research has shown that ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels of a tanning bed are 100 times that of the natural sun. Tanning beds emit both UVA and UVB rays that can cause photokeratitis, or a burn of the cornea (the clear surface of the eye). Symptoms can range from painful tearing and redness of the eye to extreme cases of temporary loss of vision. As with most sunburns to the skin, symptoms may not appear until 6-12 hours after exposure.

Tanning facilities are required by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to provide clean, UV-blocking goggles to all consumers. Wearing regular sunglasses or placing cotton balls over the eyes is not sufficient protection. Most UV damage is cumulative, meaning that the damage will not appear until years later. Tans from tanning beds or the sun are the result of skin damage.

"We tend to think that tanned skin is glamorous or attractive, but the process is actually quite dangerous," said Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America. "Damage from UV exposure can cause cataracts or be a factor in macular degeneration."

Of course, UV-blocking eye protection should be worn during other activities besides tanning. Harmful UV rays are present from the sun reflecting on sand, water, asphalt and snow. Yet a recent survey(i) conducted by Transitions Optical, Inc. finds that individuals remain largely unawa
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SOURCE Prevent Blindness America
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