Sunbed lovers are 'risking their eyesight'

17/08/10

Caley Hetherington

People who use sunbeds without protecting their eyes could damage their sight, experts are warning.

The College of Optometrists says the bright sunbed lamps can cause growths in the eyes and may even damage people's eyesight over time.

It is urging people to wear the goggles provided by tanning centres.

Some tanners are choosing not to use these because they want to tan their whole face evenly, including the area around their eyes.

Caley Hetherington, 19, works in The Tanning Shop in central London and says about one in ten of her customers do not use the protection they offer.

She said: "Some are in a rush and just want to jump on the beds, others are concerned with appearance and do not want to be left with a brown face and white rings round their eyes."

Early cataracts

Most salons give out what are known as 'winkies'. These are small circular stickers that can be rolled into a cone and placed over the eye.

if people don't wear proper protection there is a high possibility they will get cataracts at a much earlier age
Dr Vik Sharma, Ophthalmologist

Bobby has only recently started protecting her eyes when she uses sunbeds.

She says she did not know how to use winkies properly and they would fall out.

She said: "I'd not wear anything at all. I would just keep my eyes really shut and I would not want to look anywhere when I was in the sunbed."

But keeping your eyes shut is not going to protect them says Dr Vik Sharma, an Ophthalmologist in London.

The strong UV light that we are exposed to in sunbeds is a lot more intense than regular sunlight and our eyelids are thin and delicate, he explains.

He warned: "If people don't wear proper protection there is a high possibility they will get cataracts at a much earlier age."

Other risks

Caley Hetherington does not think this advice will change people's habits.

"People know sunbeds are bad for them and they are still using them," she said.

"It is the same with the winkies. If they are against using them then I don't see a doctor saying they should wear them is going to make much difference."

This is just another warning about the risk of using sunbeds.

They have already been linked to an aggressive form of skin cancer that is diagnosed in the UK more than 10,400 times a year.