February 24, 1989

Increased Outdoor Recreation, Diminished Ozone Layer Pose Ultraviolet Radiation Threat to Eye

JAMA. 1989;261(8):1102-1103. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420080014003

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THE LONG-TERM effects of ultraviolet (UV) light on the eye are of increasing concern as many people live longer and spend more of that time in outdoor recreation and as the diminishing ozone layer filters less UV light.

Ultraviolet radiation is strongest at high altitude, low latitude, and open or reflective environments (sand, snow, or water). For people who lack an eye lens (aphakics), UV light is transmitted directly onto the retina.

Ultraviolet light is that part of the spectrum with wavelengths from 100 to 400 nm. The visible spectrum begins at 400 nm. The UV range is subdivided into UV-A (from 320 to 400 nm), UV-B (from 290 to 320 nm), and UV-C (from 100 to 290 nm).

Cumulative exposure to the 300- to 400-nm range of UV light is one factor causing cataracts. Ophthalmologists say cataracts cause visual deficits for more than 3.5 million people in the United