To report the germicidal range ultraviolet (UV) irradiation–induced phototoxicity because of unprotected exposure to the UV lamps for presumed household disinfection of SARS-CoV-2 in a domestic setting.
We report on a family of 3 adults who experienced photophobia, intense eye pain, epiphora, blurred vision, and a burning sensation over the face and neck area after a short period of unprotected exposure to the UV germicidal lamps.
An initial examination revealed erythema and tenderness over the face and neck area, reduced visual acuity of 6/12, and conjunctival injections bilaterally in all 3 patients. Further assessment at the ophthalmology department 3 days later revealed gradual improvement of visual acuity to 6/6 bilaterally. Slit-lamp examinations revealed few punctate epithelial erosions. Fundal examinations were normal without evidence of solar retinopathy. The patients were diagnosed with germicidal range UV irradiation–induced photokeratitis and epidermal phototoxicity. Lubricants and emollients were prescribed for symptom relief, and the patients were warned against using a UV germicidal lamp for disinfection purposes without appropriate protection.
Although SARS-CoV-2 is structurally akin to SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV, and previous studies demonstrated high levels of inactivation of beta-coronavirus with germicidal-range UV, evidence for its efficacy to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 is lacking. This case report serves to emphasize the potential consequences of phototoxicity from the improper use of UV germicidal lamps for household disinfection and to highlight the fact that UV germicidal lamps currently have no established role in household disinfection of SARS-CoV-2.