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November 1961

Photosensitization and Cataracts

Arch Ophthalmol. 1961;66(5):612-613. doi:10.1001/archopht.1961.00960010614002

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Photosensitization is the induction of a biologically reactive state by wave lengths of light that are ordinarily innocuous. The tissue reaction to ultraviolet radiation longer than 320 mμ is basically similar in the photosensitized state to that of the abiotic range but is modified by the greater penetration of the longer wave length radiation and therefore potentially more hazardous.

Elsewhere in this issue is a report of cataract induction in mice photosensitized to ordinarily harmless radiation by repeated injections of 8-methoxypsoralen. The implications of this for human beings are thought-provoking. The ultraviolet light was in the range to which all of us, save those in the most smogged out communities, are daily exposed. The sensitizing agent, one of the furocoumarine family, is currently used topically and systemically for vitiligo and for tanning of the skin.

The case for human cataractogenesis, however, is far from proved. The amount of psoralen given

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