James Wolffsohn is Deputy Executive Dean of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University, UK.
Download the poster (.pdf), which was originally shared at the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Clinical Conference and Exhibition, 2013.
Conjunctival UV autofluorescence in eye care practitioners
James Wolffsohn (BSc PhD PgCertHE PgDipAdvClinOptom MBA MCOptom FHEA FBCLA FAAO) ∗, Tom Drew (BSc (Hons), Anna Sulley (BSc (Hons) MCOptom FBCLA FAAO)
Purpose: Autofluorescence of ultraviolet light (UV) has been shown to occur in localised areas of the bulbar conjunctiva, which map to active cellular changes due to UV and environmental exposure. This study examined the presence of conjunctival UV autofluorescence in eye care practitioners across Europe.
Method: Images were captured of 162 eye practitioners right eyes in the UK, Netherlands, Greece and the Czech Republic (average age 37.6 ± 13.1 years, 37% male), using a Nikon D100 camera and dual flash units through UV filters. Any UV autofluorescence was outlined using ImageJ software and the nasal and temporal area quantified. Data was also elicited on their demographics and lifestyle including general exposure to UV and any refractive correction.
Results: Sixty two percent of eyes had some conjunctival damage as indicated by UV autofluorescence. The average area of damage was higher (p = 0.021) nasally (2.49 ± 3.79 mm2) than temporally (1.83 ± 2.86 mm2). Nasal UV damage reduced with age (r = 0.25, p = 0.008), but was similar between genders (p = 0.160) or reported sun exposure lifestyle
(F = 0.221; p = 0.802). However, UV damage was greater in practitioners who worn no visual correction compared to contact lenses alone or combined with glasses (F = 4.559; p = 0.005).
Conclusions: UV conjunctival damage is common even in Europe and amongst eye care practitioners. The damage increases with age indicating the effect is cumulative and the greater damage nasally than temporally is expected to be due to the peripheral light focusing effect. Contact lens may offer some protection to such adverse effects compared to no visual correction.