A hazard to the eyesight of an unprotected observer may exist from the prompt visible flash caused by a high altitude or exoatmospheric nuclear event. This work was undertaken to investigate the threshold range for eyeburn damage for resident populations of Pacific Islands from the U. S. nuclear tests. In this paper, in addition to a general discussion of the problem, we give estimates of the source strength in the visible from a weapon in the megaton range, the incident energy per unit area at 1000-km range, the energy absorption, temperature rise, and heat dissipation mechanisms in the retina, and we calculate the effect of ocular chromatic aberration on the reduction of energy density and therefore damage in the absorption layer of the retina. We conclude that at most a 10°C rise in temperature, lasting for less than a millisecond, will result under the conditions assumed; this is not sufficient to cause eye damage.
HARRIS L. MAYER and FRANCES RICHEY, "Eyeburn Damage Calculation for an Exoatmospheric Nuclear Event," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 54, 678-682 (1964)