Conjunctival UV autofluorescence - prevalence and risk factors

James S. Wolffsohn*, Thom Drew, Anna Sulley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Autofluorescence of ultraviolet (UV) light 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 (ECPs) across Europe and the Middle East and its associated risk factors. Method: Images were captured of 307 ECPs right eyes in the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Kuwait, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom using a Nikon D100 camera and dual flash units through UV filters. UV autofluorescence was outlined using ImageJ software and the nasal and temporal area quantified. Subjects were required to complete a questionnaire on their demographics and lifestyle including general exposure to UV and refractive correction. Results: Average age of the subjects was 38.5±12.2 years (range 19-68) and 39.7% were male. Sixty-two percent of eyes had some conjunctival damage as indicated by UV autofluorescence. The average area of damage was higher (p=0.005) nasally (2.95±4.52mm2) than temporally (2.19±4.17mm2). The area of UV damage was not related to age (r=0.03, p=0.674), gender (p=0.194), self-reported sun exposure lifestyle (p>0.05), geographical location (p=0174), sunglasses use (p>0.05) or UV-blocking contact lens use (p>0.05), although it was higher in those wearing contact lenses with minimal UV-blocking and no spectacles (p=0.015). The area of UV damage was also less nasally in those who wore contact lenses and spectacles compared to those with no refractive correction use (p=0.011 nasal; p=0.958 temporal). Conclusion: UV conjunctival damage is common even in Europe, Kuwait and UAE, and among ECPs. The area of damage appears to be linked with the use of refractive correction, with greater damage nasally than temporally which may be explained by the peripheral light focusing effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-430
Number of pages4
JournalContact Lens and Anterior Eye
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Contact lens and anterior eye. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Wolffsohn, JS, Drew, T & Sulley, A, 'Conjunctival UV autofluorescence - prevalence and risk factors' Contact lens and anterior eye, vol vol 37, no. 6 (2014) DOI 10.1016/j.clae.2014.07.004


  • ultraviolet light
  • autofluorescence
  • bulbar conjunctival damage
  • peripheral light focusing effect
  • contact lenses


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