Does infrared or ultraviolet light damage the lens?Eye (Lond) 2016; 30(2):241-6E
In daylight, the human eye is exposed to long wavelength ultraviolet radiation (UVR), visible radiation and short wavelength infrared radiation (IRR). Almost all the UVR and a fraction of the IRR waveband, respectively, left over after attenuation in the cornea, is absorbed in the lens. The time delay between exposure and onset of biological response in the lens varies from immediate-to-short-to-late. After exposure to sunlight or artificial sources, generating irradiances of the same order of magnitude or slightly higher, biological damage may occur photochemically or thermally. Epidemiological studies suggest a dose-dependent association between short wavelength UVR and cortical cataract. Experimental data infer that repeated daily in vivo exposures to short wavelength UVR generate photochemically induced damage in the lens, and that short delay onset cataract after UVR exposure is photochemically induced. Epidemiology suggests that daily high-intensity short wavelength IRR exposure of workers, is associated with a higher prevalence of age-related cataract. It cannot be excluded that this effect is owing to a thermally induced higher denaturation rate. Recent experimental data rule out a photochemical effect of 1090 nm in the lens but other wavelengths in the near IRR should be investigated.