[Skip to Navigation]
Sign In
July 22, 1974

Microwave Cataracts

Author Affiliations

USA Washington, DC
From the Department of the Army, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1974;229(4):407-408. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230420019018

MICROWAVES in our environment and the possibility that they harm humans are facts of modern life. Microwaves are a form of nonionizing electromagnetic radiation, generally considered to include wavelengths from 1 mm to 2 meters long, which are common to radar devices used by commercial airlines and the federal government, line-of-sight telecommunication devices, "instant" cooking ovens, and diathermy treatment machines. Every American every day encounters microwaves. Experiments have shown that mammalian eyes can develop cataracts from exposure to microwaves. What is the risk of similar damage to man?

The experimental evidence is based largely on studies with rabbits and dogs. In both of these animal models, it appears that the dose of microwaves that produces cataracts is so high that (except for the head) the animal's body must be shielded; otherwise, superficial burns and hyperthermic death would occur. Also, microwave radiation at cataractogenic levels cannot be tolerated by these animals

Add or change institution