Think Aboutit – UFOs

Searching for the TRUTH on UFOs

Eye and Skin Irritation in UFO Reports

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Pattern
  • UFO Cases of Eye Irritation / Skin Irritation / Similar Effects
  • Cases Without Effects
  • Observations On The Cases
  • Conclusion


  • Medical Analysis Of Eye Symptoms
  • Chemical Sources of Eye and Skin Irritation
  • Electromagnetic Spectrum Radiation Causes of Eye And Skin Irritation


A number of UFO cases contain reference to apparently related physical symptoms regarding the eyes and skin. This article attempts to relate known information about similar physical reactions from the medical literature to the UFO effects.

While specific cases are referenced in this document, the collection of the relevant information about possible physical effect sources in one place is also an important objective of this paper.

The following is a sample of the cases which motivate this study:

3/15/65, James Flynn, Everglades, FL, 1AM; “a cone shaped UFO hovering about 200′ over some cypress trees… moved rapidly and changed positions… the cone-shaped object appeared to be about 25′ high and had four tiers of windows emitting a yellowish glow… a noise like a diesel generator… within 200 yards of the UFO, Flynn jumped out of the swamp buggy… the UFO emitted a jet-like noise and a blast of wind that knocked him off balance; as he continued to approach within a few yards, the UFO emitted a beam like a welder’s torch and Flynn blacked out… Extensive physical trace evidence was found, including an area of burnt sawgrass 72 feet in diameter… ‘I felt a blow like a sledgehammer’… when he awoke… his vision was seriously impaired. About 24 hours had passed…. [he] required medical treatment, and had a small dark spot on his forehead. He suffered impaired vision in one eye, numbness, and loss of hearing.” The effects lasted for over a week.[1]

4/66 – Robert Howard, Sinclairville NY 8:30PM Sunday; “saucer-shaped object 12 feet in diameter with flashing red lights set in its edge. It settled into a nearby swamp. Howard headed across the fields toward the object while more people gathered. The thing appeared to be beaming a very narrow stream of brilliant light into a nearby woods. As Howard neared it, he said it bobbed to the right and took off over the treetops… Right eye was puffy, bloodshot and watery”. The effects lasted for days.[2]

10/3/73 – Eddie Webb, driving in Southwest Missouri, evening; “saw a luminous object in his rear view mirror. He put his head out the window of his truck and looked back. There was a bright white flash… one lens had fallen from his glasses and the frames were melted…fortunately, the damage was not permanent.”[3]

10/12/63 – Eugenio Douglas, between Monte Maiz and Isla Verde, Argentina, evening; “a single blinding light… Douglas could now see a circular metallic craft, about 35 ft high… three figures appeared… over 12 feet tall… a ray of red light flashed to the spot where he stood and burned him… the burning red light followed him as far as the village, where it interfered with the street lights, turning them violet and green. Douglas could smell a pungent gas… the same time they [Ribas family] heard Douglas’ call the candles in the room and the electric lights in the house turned green and the same strange smell was noticed…the burns on his face and hands were clearly seen… Douglas was examined by a doctor, who stated the burns had been caused by a radiation similar to ultraviolet”[4]

11/23/76 – Shelley McLenaghan, Bolton, England, 5:15PM; “a weird red and green light… the size of a small house, flat on top, with sloping sides and three legs… ‘ a terrible pressure on my head and shoulders, an off taste in my mouth. My teeth seemed to vibrate… a purple rash covered her neck, chest, shoulders, and upper back. Her eyes and joints ached. In her mouth, her top fillings had come out and the bottom ones had crumbled”[5]

Sept – Nov 1977 on… numerous (35) witnesses to “chupas” – refrigerator sized rectangular objects emitting light beams in Brazil experienced damage to their skin after being struck with light beams, and were examined by a medical doctor: “…began with intense reddening of skin in the affected area. Later the hair would fall out and the skin would turn black. There was no pain, only a slight warmth. One also noticed small puncture marks on the skin… decrease in red blood cells”. Some deaths were reported to result from these injuries.[6]

As with all UFO cases, these reports come from every nation and demographic category. They are not restricted to any recent time period, but span at least 40 years.

The Pattern

As evidenced by the above reports, there are a number of specific effects which have been documented regarding UFO effects on eyes and skin. The following are the salient aspects of the pattern:

  • The absence of irritation in some close encounter cases and the presence of irritation in others (may be a reporting artifact, a distance effect, or indications of the varying nature of emissions by the object).
  • Irritation generally absent in beams (especially blue and white) and present in general exposure to nearby UFOs.
  • Irritation in the presence of both red and blue light.
  • General absence of irritation in CE-IV cases.
  • The presence of shaped effects on the skin.
  • The recurrence of shaped effects on the skin at delayed intervals.
  • The presence of irritation in non-exposed skin areas.

UFO Cases of Eye Irritation / Skin Irritation / Similar Effects

The following is a sampling of the literature:

Date Witnesses, Location, Time Event Date Added
4/8/50 David and Charles Lightfoot, age 12 and 9, River Road, near Amarillo TX, afternoon Reddened face and limbs after contact with small landed disk 4/18/97
4/20/50 Jack Robertson, Lufkin TX; 9PM Reddened face and upper chest after close approach (12 feet) by hovering object which emitted sparks 10/10/97
5/2/50 Anonymous woman, near the Loire River, France, 4:00 PM Swollen face and markings after witness seized by metal hands from blinding light 4/18/97
5/10/50 Dr.Enrique Caretenuto Botta, Bahia Blanca, Argentina, twilight; other witnesses to second part of sighting Witness observed a landed object and was able to enter, where he observed three apparently dead occupants; witness later suffered fever and skin blisters 4/19/97
10/16/54 Anonymous woman, Thin le Moutiers, France, time unknown “Skin disease” after close encounter 4/18/97
11/10/57 Mrs. Leita Kuhn, Madison, OH, 1:25 AM “Serious eye and skin irritation” after close encounter 4/18/97
7/13/59 Mrs. Frederick Moreland, Blenheim, NZ, 5:30 AM Swollen hands and brown patches on face beginning a few days after close encounter with a disk with transparent dome (2 occupants) and rotating orange rim jets 4/24/97
update 5/20/97
10/12/63 Eugenio Douglas, between Monte Maiz and Isla Verde, Argentina, evening Burns on face and hands after being struck with red ray 4/18/97
6/2/64 Mrs Frank Smith and grandson, Hobbs, NM, 4:00 PM Second degree burns and face swelling after close approach by top-shaped object trailing smoke 4/18/97
6/29/64 Beauford Parham, Lavonia, GA, late evening Possible chemical burns after extremely close approach by small luminous amber inverted cone which paced car, formaldehyde smell 4/18/97
7/7/64 Nine persons, Tallulah Falls, GA, 9:00PM Face and arms irritated after close approach by top shaped object with red bottom and formaldehyde smell 4/18/97
3/15/65 James Flynn, Everglades, FL, 1AM Unconsciousness, burns, vision and hearing impairment after strike from light beam during close approach to hovering object 4/18/97
7/13/65 Anonymous civilian, Baden, PA, evening (Air Force report) Witness lost vision for several days after object approach (quarter mile) and shockwave from object departure 4/18/97
9/65 Mrs. A.V, husband following in separate car, Brabant, Belgium, near Brussels, 7:30 PM Irritation at wrists after close approach by small amber object, vehicle was lifted a small distance above the road 4/18/97
4/66 Robert Howard, Sinclairville NY 8:30PM Sunday Eye irritation after close approach to an object with red lights at rim and beam projected into woods 4/18/97
4/25/66 John Wesley Bloom, Salvation Army Camp, Upland, PA evening Eye irritation after close approach to small landed luminous blue “meteor” 4/18/97
8/20/66 Otto Becker, his son, and daughter-in-law, Heraldsburg, CA, early morning Eye irritation after close encounter with large disc 4/18/97
11/27/66 Connie Carpenter, New Haven, West Virginia, 10:30 AM Conjunctivitis effects in one witness after sighting of a being with glowing red eyes 4/18/97
Spring 1967 Anonymous man and woman, Ravenswood, West Virginia, 10:30PM “Sunburn” after close approach of small luminous blue ball 4/18/97
4/3/67 John A. Keel, Gallipolis Ferry, West Virginia, 1:35AM Conjunctivitis effects after close fly by by object with green top and red lights on rim 4/18/97
5/20/67 Steve Michalac, Falcon Lake, Canada, time unknown Patterned burns and recurring rash after contact with landed object and blast on departure 4/18/97
10/68 Mr. & Mrs. McMullen, Miss Sharon Burgess and two school students, Lakeland FL, early evening Eye and skin irritation and EM effects from hovering disk with clear dome and two occupants 5/28/97
11/02/68 Dr. X, Location unknown, 4:00AM Healing and recurrent triangular shaped rash after light beam strikes witness 4/18/97
1/7/70 1/7/70 – Aarno Heinomen and Esko Viljo, near Heinola, Finland, near sunset (5PM?) Witnesses faint and paralysed on the right side, headaches, vomiting, and difficulty breathing, pain all over, was cold, and could not keep his equilibrium; red, swollen face; hands and chest were covered with red spots; after object hovered in front of car and witnesses were caught in light projected by occupant from object 4/18/97
10/3/73 Eddie Webb, driving in Southwest Missouri, evening Temporary blindness and eyeglass frames melted in a light beam from an object pacing truck 4/18/97
2/14/74 2/14/74 – M. Severin, Petite-Ile (Reunion) France, 1:30 PM Witness lost partial eyesight and experienced headaches after being struck by ray from object 4/18/97
11/23/76 Shelley McLenaghan, Bolton, England, 5:15PM Rash / spots under clothing, loosened and damaged fillings, eye and joint pain after sighting of luminous object 4/18/97
12/14/76 Retired farmer, 1.5 mi N of Listowel, Hwy 23, Ontario, Canada; 9PM Witness sees red cast to everything for 10 mins after close (500′) observation of brightly lit green object 10/10/97
9/77 Numerous (at least 35) witnesses / victims, Islands near Belem, Brazil Focused radiation injuries and deaths among rural Brazilian hunters after close approach by small rectangular flying objects 4/18/97
6/19/78 Franck Pavia and Jean-Marc Guitard, and M. Bachere, Gujan-Mestras, France, 1:30AM Streetlights in town turned off during passage of bright luminous object; eye irritation in one witness 4/18/97
9/17/78 Rivo Faralli, Torrita, Province of Siena, Italy; 9:30PM Witness car stalled on road by red glowing domed disk; two occupants emerged from dome, floated around car, reentered object. Witness suffered eye irritation for two days. 8/10/97
1979 ‘Greg’, Tyler TX, USA, time unknown Shaped rash and puncture marks after sighting; examined by Air Force medical personnel 4/18/97
1/5/79 Anonymous woman, Auburn, MA, early evening Face and eye sunburn after close approach by three glowing red triangular objects 4/18/97

Cases Without Effects

The following cases of close encounters and light ray incidents have no reported symptoms. This may be due to the absence of the symptoms, or it may simply be a report defect.

  • 10/11/54 – anonymous 3 men, Taupignac, France, 7:30PM – brief blindness, but no irritation effects despite proximity and brightness.
  • 10/30/67 – A. R. Spargo, Boyup Brook, W. Australia: 30 ft diameter mushroom shaped iridescent blue lit object 100 ft above ground, witness directly exposed to 2-3 ft diameter light beam (color unknown), 40º angle for 5 mins. EM effects (car stopped).[7]
  • 10/11/66 – Police Sgt Ben Thompson, Wanaque, NJ; “The thing was so bright that it blinded me so bad I couldn’t find my car… It was all white, like looking into a bulb and trying to see the socket, which you can’t do.”[8]
  • 10/21/54 – Anonymous man and 4yr old child, Pouzou, France, 9:30 PM; “the engine died and the lights went off. They were blinded by a strong red light which turned orange. It came from an object hovering above the road”[9]

Observations On The Cases

  • The data on proximity is poor. However, there does not appear to be a clear proximity effect.
  • UV is commonly held to be the cause of burns received by witnesses. However, the frequent association of burns and red light either indicates the predominant presence of UV with visible red rather than violet or indicates that IR is the source of the burns in red light cases (however, the general absence of sensations of heat would tend to discount this explanation).
  • The data seems to support the possibility of several and sometimes multiple causes of skin and eye irritation effects, including IR, UV, allergic reaction, toxic reaction, and harder radiation.
  • Of the possible causes, UV allows for the measurement of the energy output of the object given a known distance, and a minimal sunburn condition; assuming all injury to be minimal sunburn, and making some distance assumptions (unfortunately, such data does not seem available for IR).
  • Allergic and toxic reactions allow for the possibility of detection of substances emitted by UFOs. Investigators need to be sensitized to this possibility so that they can arrange for blood work to identify toxins or antigens.
  • Cases with sunburn and no eyeburn and vice versa are puzzling. More work on the relative sensitvity of the eyes and skin, and any possible mitigating factors needs to be done.
  • At least one case indicates a radiation capable of creating burns and penetrating clothes. This would seem to be a radiation other than UV. Information about burns from trans UV radiation (i.e. soft X-rays?) is needed to see if they match this profile. Also, information on ultrasound, which was raised as a possible cause in the 1950s by Fontes.
  • Amber objects seem to provoke chemical or allergic reactions rather than those attributable to UV or other radiations (i.e. effects on non-exposed skin)
  • Red objects provoke UV burn-type reactions.
  • Blue beams seem to have no ill-effects.


The sample size and the quality of the data present are not sufficient for more than general observations. Specific estimates of the energy output of the UFO can be derived from UV effects if the distance to the object, the duration of the exposure, and severity of the symptoms are identified. Analysis of the chemical effects of UFOs on humans is a currently neglected area of study and investigators need to make arrangements for appropriately certified expert analysis of blood, clothing, and exposed surfaces / materials in incidents where the symptoms indicate the presence of allergens or toxic substances.

Medical Analysis Of Eye Symptoms

It is sometimes reported that UFO witnesses and abductees have experienced physical symptoms of reddened eyes, itching, and, occasionally, discharge.

There are a number of possible causes for this. Most often, it is thought that this condition results from UV or harder radiation, especially since it is sometimes reported in conjunction with skin irritations similar to sunburn.

There are several types of conjunctivitis which match the reported symptoms. Allergic conjunctivitis, for instance:[10]

  • red eye(s)
  • large dilated vessels in the sclera (the tough white fibrous tissue that covers the so-called white of the eye)
  • intense itching — burning eyes
  • tearing
  • puffy eyelids, especially in the morning

defined as:

“… a reaction to the introduction of materials to which the person is allergic, such as pollen, dander, and so on. The reaction results in the release of histamine with subsequent dilatation of vessels in the conjunctiva. Reddening of the eyes develops quickly and is accompanied by itching and tearing.”

There is a specific onset and reduction of symptoms:

“Acute Conjunctivitis Key Diagnostic Points: 1.The onset of the diseases is acute. There is subjective itching with photophobia,stabbing pain, lacrimation, the sensation of a foreign body in the eye,and burning sensations. 2.In the early and mild case, it’s marked by slight swelling of the eyelid, severe congestion of the palpebral conjunctiva and the fornix (inside of eyelids) and( BR) mild congestion of the bulbar conjunctiva (thin protective coating over sclera). Additionally,there can be a sticky secretion. 3.Features of a severe case include palpebral redness and swelling, obvious congestion of bulbar conjunctiva possibly accompanied with petechial haemorrhages andincrease of mucus secretions at the inner canthus. 4.Usually,conjunctivitis will reach its climax in 3 to 4 days, and then it will be relieved and recover in about 10 to 14 days. 5.This is a kind of acute infectious opthalmopathy due to bacterial or viral infection. It’s mainly characterized by an highly infectious condition and obvious conjunctival congestion.“[11]

Chemical Sources of Eye and Skin Irritation

Sources of eye irritation include chemicals – for instance:

“In a case where 2% aqueous glutaraldehyde was accidentally splashed in the eye, irritation, pain and an increased sensitivity to light resulted. 74. Murray and Ruddy, Southern Med. J., vol. 78, p. 1012, 1985.74”[12]

This same substance can cause irritation when present in the air:

“In NIOSH HETA reports, eye irritation occurred in hospital workers exposed to atmospheric glutaraldehyde concentrations up to 0.5 ppm v/v, 66. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Health Hazard Evaluation Report no. HETA 86-226-1769, US Dept. of Health &Human Services, Public Health Service, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, January 1987.66, 68.”[13]

Ozone is also known to cause eye irritation in certain quantities. It is an interesting candidate substance in that ozone is a byproduct of electrical discharge, and there is evidence of significant electromagnetic phenomena (atmospheric ionization, radio / television / ignition interference) in the vicinity of UFOs.

Ozone has a distinctive smell:

“The characteristic smell of ozone associated with lightning discharges has been known psyche antiquity, as has been shown by Mohr in citing four examples in Homer Iliad and Odyssey. Homer called it “sulphur smell”. Ozone was first described correctly in 1786 by van Marum. He found a characteristic smell when a breakdown of electrical sparks took place within a closed volume above water and he attributed this smell to the electrical matter.”[14]

Knowledgeable readers will recognise similarity to the frequently reported irritating smell in the area around a UFO.

Unfortunately, specific data about eye problems from ozone seem to be lacking.

One reference states:

“Ozone, like many other oxidants, irritates the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, causing coughing, nausea, shortness of breath, pulmonary congestion, and impaired lung function. It aggravates chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma and bronchitis, and can cause serious health problems for people in weakened health and the elderly (see Introduction). Peroxyacetyl nitrates (PAN) and other oxidants that accompany ozone are powerful eye irritants. Exposure for 6-7 hours or more reduces lung function significantly in healthy people during periods of even moderate exercise.”[15]

Even common materials can cause eye irritation, as shown in the following table[16]:

Dust Skin flakes, soil, pet components, carpet fibers Eye irritation, allergies, eye-ear-nose-throat infections, asthma attacks, fatigue
Bacteria Heating and cooling systems, house pets, garbage, bathrooms Colds, respiratory infections, eye infections…
Benzene Paint, new carpets, new drapes, upholstery… Headaches, eye and skin irritation, fatigue, cancer
Ammonia Tobacco smoke, cleaning supplies Eye and skin irritation, headaches, nose-bleeds, sinus problems
Chloroform Paint, new drapes, upholstery, new carpeting Headaches,asthma attacks, dizziness, eye irritation, skin irritation
Formaldehyde Tobacco smoke, plywood, cabinets, furniture, particle board, office dividers, new carpets, new drapes, wallpaper, panelling Headaches, eye and skin irritation, drowsiness, fatigue, respiritory problems, memory loss, depression, gynecological problems, cancer
Benzopyrene Tobacco smoke Asthma attacks, eye and skin irritation, sinus problems, lung cancer
Trichlorethylene Paints, glues, furniture, wallpaper Headaches, eye/skin irritation, respiratory irritation

Formaldehyde is a possible suspect in some cases due to the occasional report of an “enbalming fluid” odor:

“The chemical “formaldehyde” is a colorless, pungent gas at room temperature with an approximate odor threshold of about 1 ppm [Ex.73-120].

“The principal effect of low concentrations of formaldehyde observed in humans is irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes. A wide range of concentrations of airborne formaldehyde have been reported to cause specific human health effects. Table VII-3 shows the variability and overlap of responses among subjects. Some persons develop tolerance to olfactory, ocular, or upper respiratory tract irritation. Such factors as smoking habits, socio-economic status, pre-existing disease, various host factors, and interactions with other pollutants and aerosols are expected to modify these responses.

“Eye: Human eyes are very sensitive to formaldehyde, responding to atmospheric concentrations of 0.01 ppm in some cases (when mixed with other pollutants) and producing a sensation of irritation at 0.05-0.5 ppm. Lacrimation is produced at 20 ppm, but damage is prevented by closing of the eyes in response to discomfort.

“Olfactory System: The odor threshold of formaldehyde is usually around 1 ppm, but may be as low as 0.05 ppm in some people.”


“Skin contact with formaldehyde has been reported to cause a variety of cutaneous problems in humans, including irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, and urticaria. Allergic contact dermatitis from formaldehyde is relatively common, and formaldehyde is one of the more frequent causes of this condition both in the United States and in other areas.

“In another attempt to estimate the susceptible population (particularly in relation to eye, nose, and throat sensitivity) , information on a small number of healthy young adults exposed to formaldehyde at various concentrations for short periods was considered. 59 At 1.5-3.0 ppm, more than 30% of the subjects tested reported mild to moderate eye, nose, and throat irritation symptoms, and 10-20% had strong reactions. When test subjects were exposed at 0.5-1.5 ppm, slight or mild eye, nose, and throat irritation was noted in more than 30%, but 10-20% still had more marked reactions. Approximately 20% of the subjects had slight ear, nose, and throat irritation in response to formaldehyde at 0.25-0.5 ppm. Finally, at the lowest concentration tested, less than 0.25 ppm, some exposed subjects (“less than 20 percent”) still reported minimal to slight eye, nose, and throat discomfort. These data might be interpreted as suggesting that there are subjects perhaps 10-20% of those tested, who react to formaldehyde at any given concentration.

“We may get further information from mobile-home surveys from which environmental and clinical data are available. Irritation symptoms were reported by 30-50% of subjects when formaldehyde concentration was greater than 0.5 ppm. When the concentration was less than 0.5 ppm, irritation symptoms were reported in fewer than 30% of subjects. Finally. in a more controlled study in which irritation symptoms were investigated, mild irritation responses (doubling of blinking rate) occurred in 11% of subjects tested at 0.5 ppm.”

“In summary, fewer than 20% but perhaps more than 10% of the general population may be susceptible to formaldehyde and may react acutely at any concentration, particularly if it is greater than 1.5 ppm. People report mild ENT discomfort and other symptoms at less than 0.5 ppm, with some noting symptoms at concentrations below 0.25 ppm. Low-concentration formaldehyde exposures may produce eye, nose, and throat symptoms and possibly lower-airway complaints. In some susceptible persons, an “allergic” reaction to formaldehyde may occur at very low concentrations , causing bronchoconstriction and asthmatic symptoms. This particular type of reaction to formaldehyde appears to be uncommon; its prevalence cannot now be estimated.”[17]

Mercury has some side effects which can lead to its being mistaken for radiation effects:

” Mercury is a general sensory irritant. It may produce skin burns, rash, excessive perspiration, easy blushing, partial loss of scalp hair,or a decrease in hearing. It can affect taste, and it produces irritation in the mouth. Mercury poisoning may affect the sense of touch, owing to the swelling of all extremities, including ears and nose.Except for spills of inorganic mercury and excessive use of mercury-based paint, it is debatable whether indoor concentrations of mercury are ever high enough to produce those effects.”[18]

Organic substances can have an effect:

“Primary skin irritants include polycyclic organic matter and other vapor-phase organic pollutants… Vapor-phase organic pollutants (like formaldehyde) may produce a variety of skin effects. They may produce eczematous contact dermatitis and dermal contact sensitivity. They may be absorbed percutaneously because of solubility in the water-lipid system, they may produce skin paresthesis, and they may produce eczematous reactions of an acute or chronic nature, including eruptions and exacerbations.”[19]

Electromagnetic Spectrum Radiation Causes of Eye And Skin Irritation

Of course, UV radiation can also affect eyes.

“One particularly excruciating result of acute overexposure of the eyes is keratoconjunctivitis[20], or snow blindness. Snow blindness is essentially a sunburn on the surface of the eye (i.e. the cornea and conjunctiva). Symptoms include redness of the eyes and a gritty feeling, which progresses to pain and an inability to tolerate any kind of light. The pain has been compared to rubbing sandpaper across one’s eyes. Fortunately, snow blindness is usually only temporary.”[21]

UV also can reduce immune system ability to respond to infection:

“Similarly, another study showed that after human subjects had undergone twelve 30-minute exposures to artificial UVR in a commercial tanning bed, the functions of T cells and Natural Killer cells (which play a role in fighting viral infections and are cytotoxic to some tumor cells) were negatively affected.”[22]

Onset is well-defined:

“Occur 8-12 hours after exposure…Eyes feel dry and irritated, then feel as if they are full of sand, moving or blinking becomes extremely painful, exposure to light hurts the eyes, eyelids may swell, eye redness, and excessive tearing”.[23]

And recovery can be prolonged:

” Recovery may take two or three days. Snowblindness is not a permanent condition.”[24]

The following indicates the types of damage based on wavelength:

“The initial response of the eye to exposure to UV-B radiation (280-315 nm) is the condition termed photokeratitis in which the front of the eye, the eyelids and the skin surrounding the eyes become reddened. This condition is commonly seen in skiers and also is called snowblindness. Unlike the skin, the eye does not develop a tolerance to UV but becomes more sensitive with repeated exposures. At wavelengths below 290 nm, damage is principally to corneal epithelium. Between 290 and 315 nm, the corneal stroma and endothelium begin to show damage as well. Doses as low as 0.21 J c[-2] of 308 nm radiation (from a laser) could initiate damage to the cornea; 0.6 J c[-2] at 300 nm produced demonstrable damage in the stroma and endothelium which was not fully repaired eight days post-exposure. Other data indicated that damage from UV radiation at these wavelengths is cumulative and additive among wavelengths [Pitts, 1989].”[25]

Upper limits would be based on retinal damage (which has not been reported):

“UV reaching the retina causes both functional and morphological damage. Lenses that have been removed (aphakic), such as after a cataract operation, provide clear evidence of this occurrence. The threshold for damage to the rabbit eye at 300 nm was 0.23 J [-2], A similar value (0.36 J [-2]) was found for the primate eye at 325 nm (not UV-B); the aphakic threshold was about ten times lower. More research is needed to determine how these findings might apply to retinal damage in exposed human populations.”[26]

UV is a natural suspect for skin irritation in UFO witnesses, especially since witnesses frequently are affected at a distance.

“Unlike a thermal burn, sunburn is not immediately apparent. By the time the skin starts to become painful and red the damage has been done. The pain is worst between 6 and 48 hours after sun exposure. In severe sunburns, blistering of the skin may occur. Edema of the skin, especially in the legs, is common. Toxins are released with sunburn and fever is not uncommon. Skin peeling usually begins between 3 and 8 days after exposure.”[27]

There are detectable chemical effects:

“The major photoproducts following the absorption of UVR by DNA are pyrimidine derivatives (Errera 1952). These photoproducts are cyclobutyl-type dimers (commonly called ‘pyrimidine dimers’ and by far the most significant), pyrimidine adducts, so-called ‘spore photoproducts’, pyrimidine hydrates and DNA-protein crosslinks (Patrick and Rahn 1976).”[28]

Some quantitative information is available on UV skin damage causing sunburn:

“MED is defined as the “minimum erythema dose” of energy required to produce clearly marginated sunburn in the sun-exposed area of the skin [Parrish et al. 1983]. In humans, 1 MED is approximately equivalent to 200 J [-2] of UV radiation at 297 nm.” [29]

Given the inverse-square fall-off of energy intensity, and the time of exposure, sunburn cases offer a particularly specific method of determining the energy output of the UFO in a specific frequency range.

The development of sunburn is:

“ Time course of sunburn. Half an hour of midday summer sunshine in the UK on the unacclimatized skin of Caucasian subjects is normally sufficient to result in a subsequent mild reddening of the skin. Following this degree of exposure erythema may not appear for about 4 h, although measurements using an instrument more sensitive than the eye at detecting erythema showed that vasodilatation begins to occur much sooner (Diffey and Oakley 1987). The erythema reaches a maximum at about 8-12 h after exposure and fades within 1 to 2 days (Olson et al 1966, Farr et al 1988). Exposing the skin for increasing periods to strong summer sunshine progressively shortens the time before the appearance of erythema, lengthens its persistence, and increases its intensity. High doses may result in oedema, pain, blistering and, after a few days, peeling.

“ Action spectrum for ultraviolet erythema. The effectiveness of UVR of different wavelengths in producing erythema has been determined repeatedly in a number of studies over the past 70 years (Diffey 1982). The technique is to determine the doses of UVR at a series of wavelengths necessary to produce a minimally perceptible redness 8 or 24 h after irradiation. This dose is termed the ‘minimal erythema dose’ or MED. The reciprocal of the MED is plotted against wavelength and the curve normalized to unity at the most effective wavelength. The MED at a given wavelength in a group of fair-skinned subjects are distributed lognormally. Studies in 254 normal subjects in the North East of England gave the median MED at 300 nm to be 34 mJ cm[-2] with a 95% confidence interval of 14-84 mJ cm[-2] (Diffey and Farr 1989).

“Although the action spectra determined by various workers have shown differences, particularly in the spectral region 250-300 nm, there is good agreement that at wavelengths greater than 300 nm the effectiveness drops very rapidly, falling to an efficiency at 320 nm of about 1% of that at 300 nm. Recent studies (Parrish et al 1982, Gange et al 1986) have extended determination of the erythema action spectrum up to 400 nm and have shown that the erythemal effectiveness of UVR decreases with increasing wavelength through the ultraviolet spectrum, although the rate of change of effectiveness is much less from 330 to 400 nm, than from 300 to 330 nm.

“A large number of published erythema action spectra were subject to statistical analysis and combined to produce the reference action spectrum (McKinlay and Diffey 1987) shown in figure 7…

“ Factors influencing the development of sunburn. Skin colour is an important factor in determining the ease with which the skin will sunburn. Whereas fair-skinned people require only about 15-30 min of midday summer sunshine to induce an erythremal reaction, people with moderately pigmented skin may require 1-2 h exposure and those with darkly pigmented skin (i.e. Negroes) will not normally sunburn. Other phenotype characteristics that may influence the susceptibility to sunburn are hair colour, eye colour and freckles (Azizi et al 1988, Andreassi et al 1987). Based on a personal history of response to 45-60 min of exposure to midday summer sun in early June (Fitzpatrick 1975), individuals can be grouped into six sun-reactive skin types (table 7).

“There are anatomical differences in erythemal sensitivity. The face, neck and trunk are two to four times more sensitive than the limbs (Olson et al 1966). These anatomical differences are compounded by the variations in solar exposure on different parts of the body table 8). Vertical surfaces of an upright person receive about one half of the ambient UVR, whereas horizontal surfaces, such as the epaulet region of the shoulder, receive up to 75%.

“There is no difference in sunburn susceptibility between sexes, although erythemal sensitivity may change with age in that young children and elderly people are said to be more sensitive (Hawk and Parish 1982). However, recent studies of erythemal sensitivity in children and elderly subjects have not confirmed this (Cox et al 1990).

“Heat, humidity and wind have been shown to alter the erythemal sensitivity of mice exposed to artificial UVB radiation, but the significance of these atmospheric conditions upon the induction of sunburn in humans has not been clearly identified…

“ Sunburn and epidermal hyperplasia. In addition to erythema and tanning (section 5.1.2), thickening (hyperplasia) of the epidermis is a significant component of a mild sunburn reaction. A single moderate exposure to UVB can result in up to a three-fold thickening of the stratum corneum within one to three weeks, and multiple exposures every one to two days for up to seven weeks will thicken the stratum corneum by about three- to five-fold (Miescher 1930). Skin thickness returns to normal about one to two months after ceasing irradiation.”[30]

The possibility of Infrared (IR) burns is raised in the Army FIELD MANUAL PREVENTION AND MEDICAL MANAGEMENT OF LASER INJURIES:

“d. The Support System. The eyelids are the most relevant parts of this system; they may limit the laser injury to 0.15 seconds, the duration of the blink reflex. The eyelids themselves may be burned by high energy infrared laser irradiation together with surrounding skin and the cornea…

” (1) Ultraviolet and low energy far-infrared radiation can injure the epithelial layer of the cornea; a condition that is painful and visually handicapping. At lower powers, this injury is primarily due to a photochemical reaction. A latency period of hours may exist between the time of exposure and the development of the corneal pathology. Minimal corneal lesions heal within a few days, but meanwhile they produce a decrement in visual performance…

“c. Skin Burns. The threshold for skin burns is similar to that of the cornea for ultraviolet and far-infrared wavelengths. For visible and near-infrared wavelengths, the skin’s threshold is much higher than that for the retina, since there is no focusing power as will occur in the eye. However, minimal lesion to the cornea is much more debilitating than a minimal skin burn.

“The main symptom of laser injury is reduction in visual acuity; another symptom may be pain. Medical personnel should suspect laser exposure when soldiers report seeing bright flashes of light; experiencing eye discomfort and poor vision; and feeling unexplained heat. Obvious lesions such as corneal burns, retinal injury and haemorrhage, and skin burns make the diagnosis more certain. Conceivably, one may confuse the use of invisible lasers with chemical agents which also irritate the eyes and skin (see FM8-285 for signs and symptoms of chemical agent injuries). Spontaneous fires and unexplained damage to optical instruments are additional evidence that laser devices/weapons are being employed.”[31]

From the viewpoint of selecting between UV and IR lasers as a cause[32]:

Symptoms(Reported by patient) Signs(Findings on examination) Diagnosis(and likely laser aetiology) Treatment and management
Reduction in vision. Pain in eye, eyes tender. Red or warm face or skin. White or hazy cornea.Conjunctival inflamation.Facial or skin erythema. Mid-moderate corneal and/or skin burn.(Infrared laser,intermediate dose.) If eye perforation is not suspected, apply topical antibiotics(ointment). Patch. Systemic antibiotics and pain medication. Needs physician/PA evaluation. Evacuate as appropriate.
Profound loss of vision.Severe pain in eyes. Burning sensation of face or skin. Corneal ulceration or loss of corneal tissue.Perforation of globe. Skin burn. Severe corneal and/or skin burn.(Infrared laser, high dose.)  

IR-A lasers range between 700 and 3900 Angstroms. IR-C lasers range between 5,000 and 10,600 Angstroms. UV lasers range between 325 and 350 Angstroms (UV-A).

Note also that the various chemicals and allergy provoking substances which cause eye irritation commonly cause skin irritation as well.


1. Hall, Uninvited Guests, ISBN 0-943358-32-9, p 250

2. Keel, Why UFOs?, LC# 75-105593, p96

3. Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, LC# 74-16272, p 14

4. Vallee, Passport to Magonia, ISBN 0-8092-3796-2, p 111

5. Vallee, Confrontations, ISBN 0-345-36501-1 p 110

6. Vallee, Confrontations, ISBN 0-345-36501-1 p 122

7. Keel, Why UFOs?, LC# 75-105593, p96

8. Keel, Why UFOs?, LC# 75-105593, p 128

9. Vallee, Passport to Magonia, ISBN 0-8092-3796-2, p 236 catalog 300











20. Often incorrectly referred to as “klieg conjunctivitis” among UFO researchers, due to Keel. This reference is also incorrect, in that the term used is generic. The specific term is photokerititus ( or actinic keratitis (



23. Injuries

24. (“Mountaineering, The Freedom of the Hills” 4th edition, The Mountaineers Publ.)









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