'Goggles essential' for sunbed users

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The Sunbed Association defended the industry today following a user's claims that she may go blind after prolonged tanning sessions without goggles.

Self-confessed "tanorexic" Sam Laing, 23, from Sunderland, has developed growths on both eyes which will have to be removed.

She said she did not wear eye protection during sessions because she did not want white marks - known as panda eyes - on her face.

A spokeswoman for the Sunbed Association, which represents more than one in five salons in the country, said: "It is essential that people wear eye protection and there will be information about it displayed.

"Once a customer goes into a cubicle, locks the door and undresses, there is no way the operator can double-check that they have their goggles on.

"If someone is given that information and they choose to ignore it, you cannot blame the operator or the sunbed industry.

"It is very rare that something like this happens."

The spokeswoman said current eye-protection fitted over the eye socket, meaning customers were not left with white marks on their skin.

"If someone is prepared to ignore safety advice because they are worried about getting 'panda eyes' that's their own decision."

Miss Laing, a customer services manager, started taking sunbed sessions in her early teens, and was using them three times a week by the time she was 19.

About three months ago her eyes became sore and redness spread into the irises of her brown eyes.

She was diagnosed with pterygium, a condition caused by ultra-violet light more commonly found in hot climates.

The operation to repair the damage could cause blindness.

She said: "It was such a devastating diagnosis.

"I was shocked because although I knew using sunbeds raised the risk of contracting skin cancer, I never knew it could cause something like this."