Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Retinal sensitivity to damage from short wavelength light


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.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Noell, W. K., Walker, V. S., Kang, B. S., and Berman, S., Invest. Ophthal., 5, 450–473 (1966).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Kuwabara, T., and Gorn, R. A., Archs Ophthal., 79, 69–78 (1968).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ts'o, M. O. M., Fine, B. S., and Zimmerman, L. E., Am. J. Ophthal., 73, 686–699 (1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Lawwill, T., Invest. Ophthal., 12, 45–51 (1973).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Harwerth, R. S., and Sperling, H. G., Science, 174, 520–523 (1971).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. O'Steen, W. K., Shear, C. R., and Anderson, K. V., Am. J. Anat., 134, 5–22 (1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Vassiliadis, A., Report SA–3314–17 prepared for Int. Bus. Machines Corp., PO Box 12195, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709 (1975).

  8. Gibbons, W. D., and Allen, R. G., Report SAM–TR–75–11, 1–11, USAF, School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks AFB, Texas 78235 (1975).

  9. Ham, W. T., Jr, Mueller, H. A., Williams, R. C., and Geeraets, W. J., Appl Opt., 12, 2122–2129 (1973).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Ts'o, M. O. M., and LaPiana, F. G., Trans. Am. Acad. Ophthal. Otolaryn., 78, 677–678 (1974).

    Google Scholar 

  11. White, T. J., Mainster, M. A., Wilson, P. W., and Tips, J. H., Bull. Math. Biophys., 33, 1–17 (1971).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Clarke, A. M., Geeraets, W. J., and Ham, W. T., Jr, Appl. Opt., 8, 1051–1054 (1969).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Smith, H. E., US Navy med. Bull., 42, 675–680 (1944).

    Google Scholar 

  14. Marlor, R. L., Blais, B. R., Preston, F. R., and Boyden, D. G., Invest. Ophthal., 12, 5–16 (1973).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Anderson, K. V., Coyle, F. P., and O'Steen, W. K., Expl Neurol., 35, 233–238 (1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

HAM, W., MUELLER, H. & SLINEY, D. Retinal sensitivity to damage from short wavelength light. Nature 260, 153–155 (1976).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing