What are the most common injuries associated with exposure to ultraviolet and infrared light?

Avoid direct skin exposure to UVC radiation and never look directly at a UVC light source, even briefly. Skin burns and eye injuries caused by exposure to UVC rays usually go away within a week with no known long-term damage. The most common eye disease related to near-infrared radiation is cataracts. Prolonged exposure to IR radiation causes a gradual but irreversible opacity of the lens.

Other forms of damage to the eye from infrared exposure include scotoma, which is a loss of vision due to damage to the retina. Even low-level infrared absorption can cause symptoms such as eye redness, swelling, or bleeding. Ultraviolet (UV) light is the most common cause of eye damage caused by radiation. The cornea absorbs most UV radiation. The damage caused by UV radiation to the corneal epithelium is cumulative, similar to the effects of dermal epithelium (sunburn).

Ozone in the atmosphere effectively filters most harmful UV radiation at wavelengths below 290 nm; natural UV sources, such as the sun, rarely cause injury after brief exposure. However, unprotected exposure to the sun or solar eclipses or exposure to the sun in highly reflective snow fields at high altitudes can cause direct corneal epithelial damage. This last clinical scenario is known as snow blindness. Careful consideration should be given to whether exposure to light hazard can be eliminated by altering the process used or if the light source can be replaced with one that is less harmful.

Several outbreaks of ultraviolet keratitis have been observed in the United States following the installation of inadequate lighting in school gyms, causing high levels of UV radiation. UV keratitis and UV keratoconjunctivitis are the only conditions of exposure to corneal radiation that occur with a significant frequency in United States.

Edward Zietlow
Edward Zietlow

Freelance travel junkie. General beer fanatic. Proud bacon nerd. Passionate zombie buff. Unapologetic food expert.

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