Physical and photochemical properties of ocular melanin

Randolph D. Glickman, James M. Gallas, Steven L. Jacques, Benjamin A. Rockwell, Dhiraj K. Sardar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Recent advances in the current state of knowledge about the properties of physiological and synthetic melanin are reviewed in the context of that pigment's optical properties, the physical structure that confers some of its unusual properties, its supportive role in the visual process (by absorbing excess light and reducing intraocular light scatter), its role in some (but not all) laser interactions with ocular tissue, its protective properties (by absorbing potentially phototoxic short-wavelength visible light), and its photoinducible free radical properties. The ability of melanin to form a long-lived radical during visible light irradiation may serve as a protective mechanism against light damage by transforming optical energy into chemical potential energy that can be dissipated in a chain of coupled redox reactions. If a cellular event such as antioxidant depletion occurs that disrupts this chain, however, the melanin radical may promote photo-oxidative damage in ocular tissue. Thus melanin may play two opposing roles in the eye: one protective and the other potentially damaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-126
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Damage
  • Density
  • Laser
  • Melanin
  • Optical properties
  • Photochemistry
  • RPE
  • Retina
  • Structure
  • X-ray scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical and photochemical properties of ocular melanin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this