Ultraviolet light is utilized in clinical settings to damage the nucleic acid of microorganisms which keeps the organism from reproducing. These properties make UV ideal for sterilization and other clinical applications. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has been used in the treatment of skin diseases, inflammation, damaged cells, and wounds.
Unlike damage to the skin, many may not realize that UV radiation can harm the eyes. There are three types of UV radiation. UV-C is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not present any threat. However, UV-A and UV-B radiation can have long- and short-term negative effects on the eyes and vision. If your eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, you will likely experience photokeratitis. Like a "sunburn of the eye," photokeratitis can be painful. Its symptoms include red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, and excessive tearing.
Clinicians must wear specialized eyewear when utilizing UV during patient care. Contact EH&S if you have questions concerning the type of specialized eyewear.