Ultraviolet radiation oxidative stress affects eye health

J Biophotonics. 2018 Jul;11(7):e201700377. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201700377. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


In the eye, ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is not known to contribute to visual perception but to mainly damage multiple structures. UVR carries higher energy than visible light and high dose exposure to UVR causes direct cellular damage, which has an important role in the development of cancer. This review provides an overview on the most recent knowledge on the role of UVR in oxidative stress (OS) in relation to noncancer ocular pathologies: various corneal pathologies, cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Possible OS signaling streams and mechanisms in the aging eye are discussed. Excessive exposure to UVR through live may seriously contribute to increase in OS of various eye tissues and thus lead to the advancement of serious ocular pathologies. Children are especially vulnerable to UVR because of their larger pupils and more transparent ocular media: up to 80% of a person's lifetime exposure to UVR is reached before the age of 18. Therefore, efficient everyday protection of the sensitive tissues of the eye by wearing of sunglasses, clear UVR-blocking spectacles or contact lenses should be considered from early age on. Many initiatives are taken worldwide to inform and raise the population's awareness about these possible UVR hazards to the eye.

Keywords: UVA; UVB; eye health; oxidative stress; ultraviolet radiation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / radiation effects
  • Eye / drug effects
  • Eye / metabolism*
  • Eye / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / radiation effects*
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Hydrogen Peroxide