July 2019
Volume 60, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2019
Effect of chronic exposure to high ultraviolet radiation on human eyes on the banks of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marcelo Murillo Sasamoto
    Retina and UV investigator, Instituto Privado de Oftalmologia, La Paz, Bolivia, Plurinational State of
  • Marylin Aparicio
    Bolivian Institute of Biology of Altitude, IBBA-UMSA University, La Paz, Bolivia, Plurinational State of
    Heading Chief, UV light Study Group, Bolivia, Plurinational State of
  • Shehzad Batliwala
    Dean McGee Eye Institute, Oklahoma, United States
  • Ashvini Reddy
    Dean McGee Eye Institute, Oklahoma, United States
  • Rajat Agrawal
    Retina Global, California, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Marcelo Murillo Sasamoto, None; Marylin Aparicio, None; Shehzad Batliwala, None; Ashvini Reddy, None; Rajat Agrawal, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  The French Cooperative; Department of Health, Bolivia
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2019, Vol.60, 4458. doi:
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      Marcelo Murillo Sasamoto, Marylin Aparicio, Shehzad Batliwala, Ashvini Reddy, Rajat Agrawal; Effect of chronic exposure to high ultraviolet radiation on human eyes on the banks of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):4458.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : The Bolivian Highlands are exposed to a higher level of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) due to its high altitude, low rainfall and clear skies. This study reports on ocular pathology related to chronic exposure of high UVR in Lake Titicaca region of Bolivia.

Methods : Data were collected on climate, UVR level, air quality, and ozone in fifteen municipalities surrounding Lake Titicaca to study environmental risk factors for occurrence of eye disease. The prevalence of UVR-related eye diseases was also collected. Descriptive statistics were used to report results in areas of high UVR exposure.

Results : Municipalities were at an average altitude of 3.851 km above sea level with UVR in the range higher than the extreme level (>11) as defined by the International Ultraviolet Radiation Index. Majority of the people surveyed spent more than 4 hours per day out in the sun, with inadequate eye protection. The most frequent eye disorder noted was cataract, followed by acute allergic conjunctivitis, pterygium (especially grade I) and pinguecula. Most patients were noted to have at least two diseases sensitive to UVR. There were no significant differences by gender (p=1) or location (p=0.59). However, significant differences were recorded in between age groups (p < 0.01), with a greater number of eye diseases observed in the age group of 60 to 80 years.

Conclusions : UVR-related eye disease is common in people living in high-altitude areas surrounding Lake Titicaca. Older patients were noted to have higher prevalence of eye diseases, likely due to cumulative exposure. Further studies are warranted to better understand the impact of these conditions, including chronic exposure of UVR type C, on human eyes.

This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.


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