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Letters to Nature
Nature 260, 153 - 155 (11 March 1976); doi:10.1038/260153a0

Retinal sensitivity to damage from short wavelength light

WILLIAM T. HAM JR*, HAROLD A. MUELLER* & DAVID H. SLINEY

*Department of Biophysics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298
US Army Environmental Hygiene Agency, Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland 21010

A GROWING body of literature attests to the deleterious effects of long term exposure to light1–8. To define more critically the differences between thermal and photochemical effects, we have exposed the retinae of rhesus monkeys to eight monochromatic laser lines from 1,064–441.6 nm. Thermal damage to the retina is to be expected for the 1,064-nm line since the photopigments are not involved and energy absorption takes place predominantly in the melanin granules of the pigment epithelium and the choroid. Although data on pathogenesis are not yet available, we found some interesting differences in retinal sensitivity in going from the near infrared to the blue wavelengths in the visible spectrum.

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