This article is translated from Dutch

Does UV Light Damage Medical Equipment? Understanding the Power of Light

The article underscores the efficacy of UV-C light in disinfecting medical equipment, emphasizing its non-damaging effects on equipment during disinfection cycles, while also stressing the importance of adhering to proper procedures to prevent material damage.

Does UV Light Damage Medical Equipment? Understanding the power of light

UV light radiation has played a pivotal role in reducing the burden of hospital-acquired infections by preventing the spread of disease-causing organisms in healthcare facilities.

Given the powerful nature of UV-C light, you may be wondering if UV light can damage medical devices upon exposure to it.

There is proven evidence of UV light's effectiveness and how to safely use it on medical devices without damage.

In this article, you will learn the mechanism of UV light disinfection and its effect on medical equipment upon exposure.

Understanding UV Light 

UV-C radiation is a type of ultraviolet light with a wavelength between 200 and 280nm. UV-C light can destroy the DNA of microbes that are exposed to it (1).

This destruction inhibits cell division and prevents the transmission of disease-causing organisms in high-risk surroundings like hospitals.

The antimicrobial features of UV-C light are effective against different pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.

Use of UV light in healthcare

Given its ability to eliminate various forms of microbes, UV-C light is becoming popular in most healthcare settings.

A 2020 systematic review study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences found that UV-C was effective against some resistant bacteria strains and had extended germicidal properties against viruses (4).

The broad spectrum of UV-C antimicrobial activities makes it crucial for disinfecting medical instruments or devices and preventing the spread of Hospital-Acquired Infections.

Besides its germicidal effects, UV-C light has numerous benefits compared to chemical disinfectants. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • non-toxic on materials
  • no consumables required
  • functions without water
  • sustainable
  • efficient
  • conserves resources like energy

How UV-C light exposure impact medical equipment

The effect of UV-C light disinfection on medical equipment may vary depending on the components of the medical device.

Generally, UV-C light exposure to medical equipment made of plastics can cause a non-damaging discoloration or  "yellowing" of white parts in the long run (3). In contrast, UV-C light does not affect metallic medical equipment made of steel or aluminum as metals tend to reflect UV rays. 

Glass, another material often present in medical equipment with lenses, for example, can safely absorb UV-C light (2).

Short cycles prevent instability in the material, therefore preventing damage. While short exposure to UV-C light can disinfect materials and prevent damage, the radiation remains very powerful and potentially dangerous. 

Disinfection times and procedures should be respected to prevent damage to materials. If materials, such as plastics or even glass are exposed to UV-C for unnecessary long and constant periods of up to 6 hours, it can damage and impact their overall lifespan (5). Luckily, UV Smart’s disinfection solutions complete a full disinfection cycle in seconds, preventing damage to materials.

Final Thoughts

UV light disinfection does not have the same effect on all medical devices. While metals and glass are unaffected in short cycles, plastic can discolor. Prolonged and unnecessary exposure of medical materials to UV light can damage certain materials, such as plastics. However, if doctors use short disinfection cycles, which still ensure disinfection, and follow procedures, they can prevent UV-light-induced damage to medical equipment. Check our compatibility list, to see what probes are certified to be disinfected with UV Smart products.


  1. Browne K. (2021).Brought to Light: How Ultraviolet Disinfection Can Prevent the Nosocomial Transmission of COVID-19 and Other Infectious Diseases. Applied Microbiology.; 1(3):537-556.
  2. Canadian Conservation Institute. Damage from UV radiation
  3. McGreer M. (2021). Testing the Effects of UV-C Radiation on Materials. IST International Surface Technology, 14(2), 46–47.
  4. Ramos, C. C. R., Roque, J. L. A., Sarmiento, D. B., Suarez, L. E. G., Sunio, J. T. P., Tabungar, K. I. B., Tengco, G. S. C., Rio, P. C., & Hilario, A. L. (2020). Use of ultraviolet-C in environmental sterilization in hospitals: A systematic review on efficacy and safety. International journal of health sciences, 14(6), 52–65.
  5. University of North Carolina.Damage to Common Healthcare Polymer Surfaces from UV-C Exposure.

Tommaso Allegri
Marketing Coordinator