Millimeter wave absorption in the nonhuman primate eye at 35 GHz and 94 GHz

Health Phys. 2002 Jul;83(1):83-90. doi: 10.1097/00004032-200207000-00009.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate anterior segment bioeffects of pulsed 35 GHz and 94 GHz microwave exposure in the nonhuman primate eye. Five juvenile rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) underwent baseline anterior segment ocular assessment consisting of slit lamp examination, corneal topography, specular microscopy, and pachymetry. These studies were repeated after exposure of one eye to pulsed 35 GHz or 94 GHz microwaves at varied fluences, with the other eye serving as a control. The mean fluence required to produce a threshold corneal lesion (faint epithelial edema and fluorescein staining) was 7.5 J cm(-2) at 35 GHz and 5 J cm(-2) at 94 GHz. Transient changes in corneal topography and pachymetry were noted at these fluences. Endothelial cell counts remained unchanged. Threshold corneal injury from 35 GHz and 94 GHz microwave exposure is produced at fluences below those previously reported for CO2 laser radiation. These data may help elucidate the mechanism of thermal injury to the cornea, and resolve discrepancies between IEEE C95.1 (1999), NCRP (1986), and ICNIRP (1998) safety standards for exposure to non-ionizing radiation at millimeter wavelengths.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cornea / radiation effects*
  • Corneal Diseases / etiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Eye / radiation effects*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Microwaves*
  • Radiation Injuries / physiopathology