Effects of UV-A irradiation on lens morphology and optics

Naiel Azzam, Daniel Levanon, Ahuva Dovrat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epidemiological studies have indicated that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is one of the main factors leading to senile cataract formation. We investigated morphological changes in the eye lens caused by UVR-A. Twenty three pairs of lenses obtained from 23 one-year-old calves were used for this study. For each pair, one lens was exposed to 44 J/m2 UVR in the 365 nm wavelength region while the contralateral lens was not exposed and served as a control. The lenses were placed in specially designed organ culture containers for pre-incubation. Lenses were exposed to UVR after one day in culture. After irradiation, lens optical quality was monitored throughout additional 15 days of the culture period and lenses were taken for morphological analysis by scanning electron microscopy. Damage to lens optical quality was evident as early as day 8 after the irradiation and increased with time in culture. We found irregularity of fiber morphology in lenses exposed to UV-A irradiation (but not in control lenses), similar to that reported previously for aged lenses. At the end of the culture period (day 16), lens fiber membranes also showed holes in fiber membranes. We conclude that UVR-A caused damage to cell membranes of the lens and alterations in lens optics, which may subsequently lead to senile cataract formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cataract risk factors
  • Lens ultrastructure
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Scanning laser
  • Ultraviolet light

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Aging
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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