Sunlight and ultraviolet radiation—pertinent retinal implications and current management

Tedi Begaj, Shlomit Schaal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Unprotected and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunlight, lasers, and arc welding leads to outer retinal damage. The photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium located in the posterior pole are particularly susceptible to this radiation. Classically known as solar retinopathy, this disorder frequently affects young individuals who have clear lenses and a propensity toward observing solar eclipses. Various imaging techniques aid the clinician in diagnosis, even if patients cannot recall an exposure event. By far the most utilized technique is optical coherence tomography that, in tandem with fluorescein angiography, and fundus autofluorescence, is crucial in ruling out other conditions. Fortunately, the prognosis of acute UV retinopathy is favorable, as most cases fully recover; however, a significant percentage of patients suffer from chronic sequelae: reduced acuity and lifelong central/paracentral scotomas. Thus, education toward understanding UV exposure risks, coupled with either abstinence or proper eye protection, is critical in preventing macular damage. We outline the various etiologies responsible for UV-induced retinopathy, describe the limited treatments available, and provide recommendations to minimize the potential devastating ophthalmic consequences as our society increases its reliance on UV-emitting technology and further engages in solar eclipse viewing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-192
Number of pages19
JournalSurvey of Ophthalmology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • eclipse viewing
  • phototoxicity
  • solar eclipse
  • solar radiation
  • solar retinopathy
  • UV retinopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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