Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that patients receiving psoralens plus UVA radiation (PUVA) therapy for the treatment of psoriasis or other skin diseases run the risk of developing cataracts. The total exposure to UVA radiation of these patients has been difficult to quantify because they are exposed to UVA radiation in the environment as well as during PUVA therapy. In our studies, the spectral irradiances of possible environmental sources of UVA radiation (sunlight, daylight and cool white fluorescent bulbs, and incandescent bulbs) were measured and compared to the spectral irradiance of a bank of PUVA bulbs. Sunlight and PUVA bulbs were found to have similar irradiances in the UVA waveband. Window glass reduced the UVA irradiance from sunlight. Artificial sources of illumination had a very low UVA irradiance compared with PUVA bulbs and sunlight. These results indicate that patients should protect their eyes from sunlight both outdoors and indoors after ingestion of psoralens; however, protection from incandescent bulbs or cool white and daylight fluorescent bulbs is much less important, and possibly unnecessary.
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