May 1993

Infrared Eye Injury Not due to Radiant Warmer Use in Premature Neonates

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (Dr Baumgart), and the Department of Pediatrics, School of Biomedical Engineering (Ms Knauth) and the Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine (Dr Quinn), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Dr Quinn); and the Air Shields Inc/Vickers Corporation, Hatboro, Pa (Mr Casey).

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(5):565-569. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160290071029

• Objective.  —Exposure to far-wavelength infrared radiation (λ>2000 nm) may cause corneal opacity, miosis, and delayed cataracts (onset >30 days). Near-wavelength infrared exposure (λ<1000 nm) may focus on the retina, causing burns; however, early eye examinations in neonates nursed under radiant warmers have failed to reveal acute injuries. Our purpose is to report long-term ophthalmologic outcome in infants treated under radiant warmers from birth.

Participants and Methods.  —We report findings from eye examinations in infants followed up to a median age of 2 years, 9 months (range, 1 to 75 months), for (1) 33 infants nursed exclusively under radiant warmers for up to 5 days postnatally (mean [±SD] birth weight, 1.16±0.24 kg; mean gestation, 30±2 weeks) and (2) 14 convection-warmed incubator-nursed infants 1.26±0.22 kg, 31 ±2 weeks), who were slightly more mature.

Main Result.  —A trend toward retinopathy of prematurity was noted as occurring more frequently in the radiant warmer–nursed infant population, and one infant in that group was blind. However, no macular burns and no permanent corneal, lens, or other anterior segment injuries were observed.

Conclusion.  —Preliminary findings do not support permanent eye damage attributable to near- or far-wavelength infrared injury in neonates nursed under radiant warmers.(AJDC. 1993;147:565-569)