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The Role of Ultraviolet Radiation in the Ocular System of Mammals

Ophthalmology Department, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1855 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
Rosalind Franklin University, 3333 Green Bay Rd, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Photonics 2014, 1(4), 347-368;
Received: 29 September 2014 / Revised: 15 October 2014 / Accepted: 15 October 2014 / Published: 22 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optics and Technologies for Ophthalmology and Visual Science)
PDF [541 KB, uploaded 24 October 2014]


With decreasing levels of ozone in the atmosphere, we are being exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) than ever before. UVR carries higher energy than visible light, and its effects on tissues include DNA damage, gene mutations, immunosuppression, oxidative stress and inflammatory responses. In the eye, UVR is strongly associated with the development of basal and squamous cell carcinoma of the eyelid, pterygium, photokeratitis, climatic droplet keratopathy, ocular surface squamous neoplasia, cataracts, and uveal melanoma, and is weakly associated with age-related macular degeneration. Despite overwhelming evidence regarding the deleterious effects on UVR, public health measures to encourage UV protection of the eyes is generally lacking. Options for photoprotection include sunglasses, wide brim hats, windshields, plastic films for side windows in cars, UV blocking contact lenses, and following the UV Index report daily. The American National Standards Institute currently has regulations regarding properties of UV blocking sunglasses; however, compliance in the US is not mandatory. On the other hand, UVR does have therapeutic applications in the eye, particularly, riboflavin activated by ultraviolet A light (UVA) radiation is used clinically to slow the progression of keratoconus, post-LASIK keratectasia, and bullous keratopathy by crosslinking corneal collagen fibers. Additionally, riboflavin activated by UVA has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic effects. This is clinically relevant in the treatment of infectious keratitis. Finally, exposure to low levels of light in the UV spectrum has been found to regulate the growth of the eye and lack of adequate exposure may increase the risk of development and progression of myopia. View Full-Text
Keywords: ultraviolet radiation; ocular effects of UVR; cornea; sunglasses; therapeutic ultraviolet radiation ultraviolet radiation; ocular effects of UVR; cornea; sunglasses; therapeutic ultraviolet radiation

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Majdi, M.; Milani, B.Y.; Movahedan, A.; Wasielewski, L.; Djalilian, A.R. The Role of Ultraviolet Radiation in the Ocular System of Mammals. Photonics 2014, 1, 347-368.

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