Irreversible Effects of Visible Light on the Retina: Role of Vitamin A

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Science  02 Apr 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3978, pp. 76-80
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3978.76


Diffuse retinal irradiation by visible light produces in the rat the death of visual cells and pigment epithelium. Typically, cage illumination of 1500 lux from fluorescent light through a green filter leads to severe damage when continued for 40 hours. Vitamin A deficiency protects against this damage but experiments show that retinol released by light from rhodopsin is probably not the toxic agent. Protection against light damage depends on a long-range state of cell adaptation to light itself. The normal diurnal cycle of light and dark seems to be the essential factor in controlling visual cell viability and susceptibility.