The role of the lens epithelium in development of UV cataract

Curr Eye Res. 1995 Jan;14(1):71-8. doi: 10.3109/02713689508999916.


In view of renewed interest in the lens epithelium as the initiation site for cataract development, it seemed timely to review recent studies which appear to establish UV damage in the lens epithelium as the cause of UV cataract. While UV photons can and do interact with lens proteins in the cortex and nucleus, experimental results from cultured lenses and tissue cultured epithelial cells also demonstrate both mutagenic and cytotoxic effects in the epithelium. This minireview examines UV-induced changes in lens physiology that appear to follow epithelial cell damage, including inactivation of critical enzymes of transport and metabolic processes. Changes in membrane function include altered cation transport, increased permeability, and altered biosynthesis. One potential scenario for the propagation of damage from the epithelium to the underlying fiber cells includes calcium elevation, an early event in cataract development and critical to many physiological processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Cataract / physiopathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Crystallins / metabolism
  • Crystallins / radiation effects
  • DNA / radiation effects
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Epithelium / radiation effects
  • Lens, Crystalline / physiology*
  • Lens, Crystalline / radiation effects*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / etiology*
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Crystallins
  • DNA