1651d Occupational uv exposure and the eye

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Ultraviolet (UV) and blue-light components of optical radiation can affect the eye with a photochemical mechanism; both acute and/or long term effects can be induced. By large, the most diffuse source of optical radiation is Solar Radiation (SR) that includes both components. Among factors influencing SR exposure one of the most important is outdoor work: only in Europe outdoor-workers (OWs) are about 15 million. Another factor specifically relevant to the eye is reflection as, for anatomical reasons, the eye is less protected from reflected rays. As a consequence the presence of highly reflecting surfaces, like fresh snow or water, can increase eye exposure. In OWs various adverse chronic eye effects, involving different structures of the eye, can be found, as pterygium, cataract and macular degeneration. We reviewed scientific studies on eye effects of optical radiation in OWs. The results confirm an increased risk of the abovementioned adverse effects, but knowledge on various aspects is largely insufficient. Among relevant aspects deserving further studies are the evaluation of lifetime ocular exposure to ultraviolet radiation and blue-light considering both occupational and leisure activities, and possibly integrating subjective questionnaires data with objective data, as UV effective irradiance, available through meteo-climatic databases or field measurements. Individual aspects to be adequately investigated must include among other, also the possible presence of reflection, protective habits as the use of hats (type, frequency, etc.) and of sunglasses (frequency, shape, UV/blue light filters, etc). These aspects are extremely important especially for the development of more adequate preventive measures.

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