The action spectrum for light-induced damage to the retina results from the wavelength dependence transmission of the preretinal ocular media, wavelength dependent absorption in retinal chromophores and chromatic aberration of the eye optics. While various light/tissue interaction mechanisms have been implicated, thermal mechanisms dominate in the red and near-infrared for all exposure durations and in the visible for exposures shorter than a few seconds. A number of investigators have measured the transmission of the eye and the spectra of retinal absorbers, and thermal models based on these data predict the broad features of the action spectrum. Dose/response studies with lasers and incoherent light sources, conducted over the past 10 years mainly validate the thermal models.© (1999) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.