Table 3. Interaction of light with eye tissues and chromophores

Wavelength (nm) Mechanism Consequence
Notes: RPE = retinal pigment epithelium; SWS = short wavelength sensitive cones (blue); MWS = medium wavelength sensitive cones (green); LWS = long wavelength sensitive cones (red); and AMD = age-related macular degeneration.
Cornea <300 and >800 Heat dissipation Keratitis, droplet
Iris Melanin: 380-700 Heat dissipation  
Lens Peak at 365 at 8 years
Peak at 450 at 65 years
Heat dissipation Cataract (nuclear and/or
Retina 400-700
Rhodopsin: 507
SWS: 450
MWS: 530
LWS: 580
Photochemical damage
type I: max at 507 nm
type II: max at shorter
Toxicity potential
Solar retinitis
Aggravation of
RPE Melanin: 380-700 Heat dissipation Potentiation of lipofuscin
Lipofuscin 355-450
A2E: peak at 430-440
Photodynamic effect
Retinal toxicity
Solar retinitis
Age-related maculopathy
Aggravation of
Lutein: 446
Xanthine 455
Zeaxanthine 480
Heat dissipation Reduced blue light
Protects against AMD


Source: SCENIHR, Health effects of artificial light, 19 March 2012,
 3.4.3 Biological effects, pp. 31-38.

Related publication:
Artificial Light homeHealth Effects of Artificial Light
Other Figures & Tables on this publication:

Figure 1. Electrical lighting sources technologies

Figure 2. Wavelength regions in optical radiation

Figure 3. Chromophores and their absorption bands (adapted from Jagger 1967)

Figure 4a. Interaction of UV radiation with the human eye at all ages (adapted from Sliney 2002).

Figure 4b. Specificity of optical radiation interaction with the eye of children below 9 years of age (adapted from Sliney 2002).

Figure 4c. Optical radiation interaction with the young human eye (10 years old up to young adulthood) (adapted from Sliney 2002)

Figure 4d. Optical radiation interaction with the eye of an aging human (adapted from Sliney 2002)

Figure 5. Light penetration in the skin

Table 1. Lamp parameters supplied by the European Lamp Companies Federation

Table 2. Overview of the classes of photodamage to the retina

Table 3. Interaction of light with eye tissues and chromophores

Table 4. "Light related" skin diseases

Table 5. Wavelength dependency in photosensitive diseases

Table 6. Examples of exposure situations from artificial light for the general population

Table 7. Percent increase in SCC incidence and risk at 80 years of age due to certain added UV doses

Table 8. Estimates of SCC risk

BOX I: Metrics of optical radiation and (bio-)effectiveness

Figure 6. shows the typical adverse effects of light on eye tissues as a function of wavelength.

Figure 7. Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by rod photoreceptors exposed to blue light in vitro (adapted from Yang et al. 2003)

Figure 8. Photosynthesis of vitamin D3 and further metabolism (adapted from Dutch Cancer Society 2010)