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A Review: Role of Ultraviolet Radiation in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Chalam, K V M.D., Ph.D.; Khetpal, Vijay M.D.; Rusovici, Raluca Ph.D.; Balaiya, Sankarathi Ph.D.

Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice: July 2011 - Volume 37 - Issue 4 - p 225-232
doi: 10.1097/ICL.0b013e31821fbd3e

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in the western world. The retina is highly susceptible to photochemical damage from continuous exposure of light and oxygen. The cornea and the lens block a major portion of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the retina (<295 nm). The relationship between UV light exposure and AMD is unclear, although short wavelength radiation and the blue light induce significant oxidative stress to the retinal pigment epithelium. Epidemiologic evidence indicates a trend toward association between severity of light exposure and AMD. In this review, we discuss type 1 and type 2 photochemical damage that occurs in response to UV exposure. We examine the impact of different doses of exposure to UV radiation and the subsequent production of oxidative stress in AMD. Local and systemic protective mechanisms of the retina including antioxidant enzymes and macular pigments are reviewed. This article provides a review of possible cellular and molecular effects of UV radiation exposure in AMD and potential therapies that may prevent blindness resulting from this disease.

From the Department of Ophthalmology (K.V.C., V.K., R.R., S.B.), University of Florida-College of Medicine, Jacksonville, FL.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to K.V. Chalam, M.D., Ph.D., University of Florida, Department of Ophthalmology, 580 West 8th Street, Tower II, 3rd Floor, Jacksonville, FL 32209; e-mail:

Accepted April 14, 2011.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.