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denoting electromagnetic radiation of wavelength shorter than that of the violet end of the spectrum, having wavelengths of 4–400 nanometers.
ultraviolet A (UVA) ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths between 320 and 400 nm, comprising over 99 per cent of such radiation that reaches the surface of the earth. Ultraviolet A enhances the harmful effects of ultraviolet B radiation and is also responsible for some photosensitivity reactions; it is used therapeutically in the treatment of a variety of skin disorders.
ultraviolet B (UVB) ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths between 290 and 320 nm, comprising less than 1 per cent of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth's surface. Ultraviolet B causes sunburn and a number of damaging photochemical changes within cells, including damage to DNA, leading to premature aging of the skin, premalignant and malignant changes, and a variety of photosensitivity reactions; it is also used therapeutically for treatment of skin disorders.
ultraviolet C (UVC) ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths between 200 and 290 nm; all of this type of radiation is filtered out by the ozone layer so that none reaches the earth's surface. Ultraviolet C is germicidal and is also used in ultraviolet phototherapy.
ultraviolet rays electromagnetic radiation beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum; they are not visible to humans. They are produced by the sun but are absorbed to a large extent by particles of dust and smoke in the earth's atmosphere. They are also produced by the so-called sun lamps. They can produce sunburn and affect skin pigmentation, causing tanning. When they strike the skin surface they transform provitamin D, secreted by the glands of the skin, into vitamin D, which is then absorbed into the body. Because ultraviolet rays are capable of killing bacteria and other microorganisms, they are sometimes used to sterilize objects in specially designed cabinets, or to sterilize the air in operating rooms and other areas where destruction of bacteria is necessary.
ultraviolet therapy the employment of ultraviolet radiation in the treatment of diseases, particularly those affecting the skin. See also PUVA therapy and photochemotherapy. Among the diseases that respond to this form of therapy are acne vulgaris, psoriasis, and external ulcers.

Dosage. The dosage unit of ultraviolet radiation is expressed as minimal erythema dose (MED). Because of varying degrees of skin thickness and pigmentation, human skin varies widely in its sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation. The MED refers to the amount of radiation that will produce, within a few hours, minimal erythema (redness caused by engorgement of capillaries) in the average Caucasian skin. Dosage for individual patients is prescribed according to probable sensitivity as determined by that individual's skin type as compared to average sensitivity.
Degrees of Erythema. Minimal erythema is a first degree erythema and usually is produced after about 15 seconds of exposure to a high-pressure mercury arc in a quartz burner placed at a distance of 75 cm (30 in) from the skin. A second degree erythema results from a dose of about 2.5 MED; its effects become apparent about 4 to 6 hours after application and are followed by slight peeling of the skin. A third degree erythema is produced by about 5 MED; it may become apparent within 2 hours after application and is accompanied by edema followed by marked desquamation. A fourth degree erythema is produced by about 10 MED and is characterized by blistering.
Precautions. Ultraviolet therapy is safe only in the hands of a skilled and knowledgeable therapist. Areas of “thin skin” that may be burned more readily than that receiving treatment must be protected by wet towels or dressings. The eye is highly sensitive to ultraviolet radiation; therefore some form of protection, such as goggles, compresses, or cotton balls, should be provided for both the patient and the therapist to avoid damage to the conjunctiva and cornea.

Certain drugs, such as the sulfonamides, greatly increase sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation. All patients scheduled for this form of therapy should be questioned in regard to the medication they are taking so the dosage can be adjusted accordingly or the treatment deferred.

ul·tra·vi·o·let (UV, uv),

Denoting electromagnetic rays at higher frequency than the violet end of the visible spectrum.


Denoting electromagnetic rays at higher frequency than the violet end of the visible spectrum.

ultraviolet (UV) 

Radiant energy of wavelengths smaller than those of the violet end of the visible spectrum and longer than about 1 nm. The wave band comprising radiations between 315 and 380 nm is referred to as UV-A. Excessive exposure to these radiations can cause cataract. The wave band comprising radiations between 280 and 315 nm is referred to as UV-B. Excessive exposure to all these radiations can cause photokeratitis and corneal opacity, while radiations between 295 and 315 nm can cause cataract. The wave band comprising radiations between 200 and 280 nm is referred to as UV-C. Excessive exposure to these radiations can cause photokeratitis and corneal opacity. See blepharospasm; actinic keratoconjunctivitis; excimer laser; absorptive lens; nanometre; pinguecula; wavelength.
Table U1 Divisions of the ultraviolet spectrum
UV-A (near)380-315 nm
UV-B (middle)315-280 nm
UV-C (far)280-200 nm
References in periodicals archive ?
The dentist confirmed that it was a bite mark, but only after developing ultraviolet photographs that showed the wound in detail, which allowed a comparison to be made with the suspect's dental records.
Even though an increasing number of people have heeded doctors' advice and now use sunscreens, the fact few people are aware even "total sunblock" sunscreens do not block ultraviolet A has given sunscreen users a false sense of security.
"We actually demonstrate that in those middle latitudes where highly fluctuating levels of ultraviolet radiation occur throughout the year, tanning has evolved multiple times as a mechanism to partly protect humans from harmful effect of the sun," said Jablonski.
Next on Martin's list of surprises in our cosmic backyard: galaxies that emit unusually large amounts of ultraviolet light relative to their overall luminosities.
"If we are observing the ultraviolet light from distant galaxies ...
Earlier space-based ultraviolet imagers showed that, at these wavelengths, spiral galaxies look quite similar to views made in the light of hydrogen alpha (H[alpha]), which comes from regions of hot gas (the inset shows M31 in H[alpha] light).
Because newborn stars radiate most of their light at ultraviolet wavelengths, their host galaxies appear to GALEX like diamonds against a black backdrop.
Recently, NIST researchers have successfully characterized the molecular structure of the chiral prototype, binapthol, using high-resolution microwave and ultraviolet molecular-beam spectroscopies.