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Ozone Depletion and Solar Ultraviolet Radiation: Ocular Effects, a United Nations Environment Programme Perspective

Cullen, Anthony P O.D., Ph.D.

doi: 10.1097/ICL.0b013e318223392e

Purpose: To describe he role played by the United Nations Environmental Effects Panel with respect to the ocular effects of stratospheric ozone depletion and present the essence of the Health Chapter of the 2010 Assessment.

Methods: A consideration of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) at the Earth's surface as it is affected by atmospheric changes and how these influence sunlight-related eye diseases. A review of the current Assessment with emphasis on pterygium, cataract, ocular melanoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

Results: Although the ozone layer is projected to recover slowly in the coming decades, continuing vigilance is required regarding exposure to the sun. Evidence implicating solar UVR, especially UVB, in every tissue of the eye continues to be amassed.

Conclusion: The need for ocular UV protection existed before the discovery of the depletion of the ozone layer and will continue even when the layer fully recovers in approximately 2100.

From the School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

The author has no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Prof. Tony Cullen, D.Sc., School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada; e-mail:

Accepted May 6, 2011.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.