Eye Diseases

The most common association between UV radiation and eye disease is the possibility that UV can cause senile cataracts, a clouding of the eye lens. Cataracts are the most common and severe chronic eye disease considered to be the cause for approximately 53% of the cases of blindness across the world (Long et al., 1996). Cataracts are treatable only by surgery in which the natural eye lens is removed and replaced by a plastic lens; the most common surgery in medicine (Belkin, 1994). The use of hats and eyeglasses can greatly reduce eye exposure to UV (Rosenthal et al., 1991), and it is evident that tree shade in urban areas would also reduce exposure. Parisi et al. (2001a) point out that the diffuse component of UV radiation is usually responsible for most eye damage because of the natural aversion people have to looking at the sun. They also measured UV-B and UV-A diffuse fraction in open areas as well as beneath trees (see Section 12.4.3). The epidemiology of cataractogenesis is complicated by the possibility that cataracts increase with higher air temperature (Sliney, 1986)

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