The UV-Absorption Spectrum of Human Iridal Melanosomes: A New Perspective on the Relative Absorption of Eumelanin and Pheomelanin and its Consequences


  • This invited paper is part of the Symposium-in-Print “Retinal Photodamage.”

Corresponding author email: (John D. Simon)


Photoemission electron microscopy is used to measure the absorption coefficients, εc, of intact iridal stroma melanosomes isolated from dark brown and blue–green human irides for the spectral range λ = 244–310 nm. These iridal stroma melanosomes were chosen because different colored irides produce organelles of varying eumelanin:pheomelanin ratios with similar size and morphology. Similar absorption spectra are found for the two types of melanosomes. The experimental spectra measured within are compared with both the extinction coefficient spectra obtained on soluble synthetic model systems and the monomeric precursors to each pigment.