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US: Researchers illuminate retinas to help stop laser damage
Because the laser pulse wavelength used was in the infrared, and the cells were cultured (not live retinas) there is no current practical use for pilots and others looking for glasses-free resistance to visible laser light. However, this research may open up other avenues as it does indicate that perhaps the retina can be “hardened.”
They found that in control cells (no red LED light exposure), damage occurred around 25 joules per sq. cm, while in cells exposed to red LED lights 24 hours earlier, damage occurred around 35 joules per sq. cm. This is a 40% improvement. Curiously, the maximum protection occurred with red LED illumination levels of 0.40 and 1.60 milliwatts per sq. cm., while an intermediate value of 0.80 mW/cm² was less effective.
The study was funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and was conducted at the Air Force Research Laboratory in San Antonio, Texas. The researchers were Jeffrey C. Wigle, Larry E. Estlack and Kurt J. Schuster.
From SPIE Newsroom/Biomedical Optics and Medical Imaging