What are Tanning Goggles?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Tanning goggles are small plastic eyeglasses with dark lenses that are worn to protect the eyes during indoor tanning. Indoor tanning is a process that uses ultraviolet radiation, similar to the rays given off by the sun, in order to change the color of the skin’s outer cells and mimic the appearance of natural sun exposure. People may receive this exposure indoors by getting into an apparatus surrounded by ultraviolet light bulbs, such as standing in a tanning booth or laying down in a tanning bed. The ultraviolet rays that give the skin a tan color may cause damage to the eyes, so it is generally recommended for people who tan indoors to wear protective goggles.

The skin of the eyelids tends to be much thinner and more delicate than the skin on other areas of the body. Since the eyelid skin is so thin, it does not offer much protection for the eyeballs when the eyes are closed during indoor tanning, as the ultraviolet rays can penetrate though the eyelids and reach the eyes themselves. Wearing tanning goggles can help prevent the ultraviolet tanning rays from coming into contact with the eyes. Protective goggles are typically provided by indoor tanning establishments and are designed to be small and cover only the eyes themselves without obscuring the undereye area in order to prevent pale undereye circles.


The primary purpose of tanning goggles is to protect the eyes against both short- and long-term damage. The ultraviolet rays used in indoor tanning are positioned much closer to the body and tend to be more potent than the ultraviolet rays from the sun. When the eyes are exposed to close contact with these strong ultraviolet rays, a variety of vision conditions can result.

One of the most common risks of indoor tanning without wearing protective tanning goggles is burning of the corneas. The cornea is the clear membrane that covers the pupil and iris. When the cornea is burnt from ultraviolet ray exposure, it can cause conjunctivitis, a condition that results in blurred vision, crustiness from excessive mucus from the eye, and a painful burning sensation. Conjunctivitis can generally be treated with eyedrops to reduce any inflammation, but in certain cases can cause permanent vision difficulties.

More serious vision complications that can result from indoor tanning without wearing protective tanning goggles are cataracts. Cataracts are thin film over the eyes that is opaque instead of transparent, resulting in fogged vision. They typically cannot be treated in any way except by surgical removal.


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Post 5

@Pippinwhite-- I think cataracts occur naturally due to old age, although sun exposure might have something to do with it. It is true that our eyes are very sensitive to sunlight and the radiation used in indoor tanning is no different. So we have to protect our eyes outdoors from natural sunlight and when we go indoor tanning from artificial light.

I like being tan too, and I think that moderate, rare tanning in an indoor tanning bed is okay. But the goggles are a must, regardless of how often one goes tanning or how long the session lasts.

Post 4

fBoyle-- I don't know about supervision or quality but there are a few well known brands that manufacture them. Most salons use the same well known brands. They are sold at salons or beauty supply stores and you can do some research before selecting a brand if you want. I think they are all good quality and will provide the needed coverage, but I'm not an expert on this topic. I think though, as long as you wear one, you will be fine.

Some people don't wear their tanning goggles because they think that their eyelids will remain lighter than the rest of their body. That is a terrible idea and will lead to serious eye damage. Those UV rays can even cause blindness. So everyone, please, just wear the goggles. The eyelids don't look strange afterward in case anyone is wondering.

Post 3

Do the tanning goggles really provide the necessary protection while tanning? Are the goggles made by a particular company? Does any agency supervise their production or quality?

Post 2

I've never done much tanning, but I always wore the goggles when I did. I went to college with a girl who didn't wear hers for a couple of sessions and she ended up with severe conjunctivitis. She missed something like a week of classes because of it. Her doctor told her to stop tanning for a while, but she didn't.

I couldn't believe she still wanted to tan after what happened to her eyes, but I guess she was kind of an addict. She did wear her goggles faithfully from then on, but I'd hate to see what her skin looks like now. Probably like old saddle leather. I've seen what tanning does to people. It's not pretty.

Post 1

Actually, cataracts can be caused by too much outdoor sun exposure, too. Most eye doctors recommend people wear sunglasses that offer UV ray protection.

When my mom had cataract surgery, the doctor said sun exposure is what usually causes them. He said that wearing good sunglasses regularly would greatly decrease the incidence of cataracts.

I've always worn my sunglasses, but since Mom's doctor told her that, I've been especially vigilant, even on cloudy days. As I've gotten older, though, I find that glare bothers me more, and overcast days are sometimes the worst for glare.

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