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We’ll kick off the New Year with a look into one of the core Sun is Life Certification modules entitled, “I Care for Eye Care.” The in-depth interview in this issue with Simona Sferle of My Eyesunshields Ray Blockers® eye protection “dovetails” nicely with this topic. (Don’t miss the story of her personal tanning industry journey on p.16.)
For over five decades, the proper use of FDA-compliant eye protection has been part of the FDA’s 21CFR1040.20 that regulates our industry. Going back to the early days of indoor tanning, consumers have used a plethora of non-compliant products as eye protection, ranging from coins, towels, cotton balls and spoons, and many still use no eye protection at all! The skin of human eyelids has only a very small amount of melanin, and is too thin to sufficiently block UV rays from reaching (and damaging) the cornea and retina of the eye. Typically, UV exposure directly to the cornea will result in injury that creates the feeling of having sand or grit in the eye. This usually dissipates after 24-48 hours, giving the perception that no damage has been done. The most important message here is that eyes unprotected or insufficiently protected from UV suffer cumulative damage. Over time, it can lead to loss of distance perception, photokeratitis, night blindness and even complete blindness.
Whether disposable or reusable, regulation requires that eye protection products must block transmission of 99% of UVA and 99.9% of UVB light.
Only FDA-compliant products should be used for eye protection when tanning indoors. Whether disposable or reusable, regulation requires that these products must block transmission of 99% of UVA and 99.9% of UVB light. Although not a part of the FDA’s CFR on eye protection, only state and local laws (not Federal) typically have regulations governing the hygienic sanitization of reusable eyewear. So, if exposure of unprotected eyes to UV light can be so harmful, why would indoor tanners consider not using protection? Largely, because of vanity! That’s right – tanners despise those unsightly tan lines created by some eyewear. But what would you rather have: tan lines that can be remedied with self-tanning products … or blindness? It should be a no-brainer.
Here are a couple more important points to remember. If the eyewear came with straps to keep it in place, the tanner must wear it with the straps in order for the eyewear to be FDA-compliant. Compliant eyewear must allow the user to see the “power off” button or switch during their session, if needed. Reusable eyewear styles must have lenses that are not scratched, as scratches could prevent the user from seeing this button. Salons that offer shared reusable eyewear should take caution to sanitize it properly (according to sanitizing product directions) as pink eye (conjunctivitis) is extremely contagious. Even if the tanner owns their own pair of goggles, they should make sure they are sanitized before and after use.
Back in the day, many tanning salons would employ “dunk tanks” of solution to clean reusable eyewear. Perhaps some salons still do this, but I’d suggest dropping this habit. Imagine going to a hotel, asking the front desk for a toothbrush and they respond by offering you a tank full of them, floating in a solution! Nope. You wouldn’t do it and neither would I.
These days, salon operators try to make it as easy and affordable as possible for their guests to use FDA compliant eyewear for every tanning session. To coin a phrase, “what’s in your wallet?”
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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