Background: To test the effectiveness of commercially available ultraviolet (UV)-protective eye drops (8-hydroxy-1-methylchinolinium methylsulphate) which are recommended for protection against both solar and artificial UV radiation.
Methods: The spectral transmission in the wavelength range from 250 to 500 nm was investigated in 1-nm steps using a high-resolution double monochromator with holographic gratings of 2,400 lines/mm and a 1,000-watt halogen lamp as light source. The transmission spectrum was measured for different values of the layer thickness.
Results: The transmission of a liquid layer of about 10 microns, which corresponds to the thickness of the human tear film, shows a cut-off at 290 nm with a transmission of about 25-50% at shorter wavelengths. For wavelengths longer than 290 nm the transmission is higher than 90%. The threshold time ratio for keratitis formation with and without eye drops is above 0.93 considering solar radiation on the earth's surface and above 0.65 considering radiation from arc-welding, respectively.
Discussion: The transmission spectrum of the eye drops under realistic conditions does not show a protective effect against solar UV radiation. However, there exists reduction of UVC radiation in the spectral range typical of artificial UV sources such as arc-welding. We cannot recommend the application of these eye drops as an UV-protective aid against eye damage by solar UV radiation.