Optical Brightening Agents, often referred to as OBA's, are used in paper coatings, textiles, and even detergents to increase the perceived whiteness of the treated product. OBA's absorb ultra-violet light and emit visible blue/white light. This shift in light frequency results in exaggeratedly white appearance.
Although an effective solution for improving the whiteness of inkjet canvas and paper, OBA's pose a serious threat to the longevity of fine art prints. OBA's are known to accelerate metamerism, cause color shift, and yellow media over time.
Variation in the amount of UV light present will similarly vary the amount of visible light emission from OBAs. In practical terms, this means image colors will appear different under different lighting conditions. Further, with time and repeated UV absorption and emission, OBAs will decompose or "burn out" destroying the print. As simply elaborated by the Wilhelm Research Institute, "When long-term image permanence is an important consideration... fluorescent brighteners should be avoided".