The Scope of Photomedicine

  • J. A. Parrish
Part of the Photobiology book series (PB)


Photomedicine is the application of the principles of photobiology to the diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of health and disease. Photobiology is the study of the interactions of nonionizing electromagnetic radiation with biomolecules, and the ensuing biologic responses. Electromagnetic radiation affects living tissue in various ways. Only radiation that is absorbed can result in photochemistry. The energy of photons in the ultraviolet (UV; 200–400 nm) and visible wavelengths is sufficient to cause electronic excitation of specific chromophore molecules, leading to specific chemical reactions. Thus, use of UV and visible radiation offers the possibility of selecting among a wide variety of specific target molecules and causing specific photochemical reactions. Human color vision is an excellent example of how specific and biologically significant such processes may be. Photobiology is concerned predominantly with radiation of wavelengths 200–800 nm and with photochemical alterations in biomolecules that eventually affect the viability or function of living matter.


Skin Cancer Stratum Corneum Action Spectrum Visible Radiation Artificial Source 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Parrish
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical SchoolMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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