Is LED Lighting Bad for Your Eyes?Eric Merlin
LED lighting has become a major part of our lives. In fact, the market for LED lights has more than quadrupled since just 2009. This makes this type of lighting one of the fastest-growing technologies.
People love LED because it uses only 20 percent of the electricity required by a traditional incandescent bulb. At the same time, it provides the same quality or greater brightness with this energy efficiency and affordability. But many people wonder whether LED lights are bad for your eyes.
What is an LED light?
Inside an LED light is a light semiconductor chip, either short-wavelength blue or ultraviolet. This chip has a yellow phosphor layer that takes in monochrome blue light and projects it as a mixed-wavelength white light. The brighter white the light appears, the bluer the spectrum.
Phototoxicity of Blue Light
According to the Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety organization of France (ANSES), even short-term exposure to highly intense blue light are phototoxic to humans. These phototoxic effects can cause major issues in people after long-term exposure. One such health problem you risk more with this long-term exposure is age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). More adults over the age of 50 lose their eyesight to ARMD than from any other condition.
It is important to note that there are two types of blue light emitted by LED bulbs. Home LED lighting emits warm white light, a range with weak phototoxicity that compares to traditional bulb lighting.
Greater risk for phototoxicity exists in auto headlights, flashlights, and some toys. These LED lights emit higher intensity blue light. It is high-intensity blue light exposure at wavelengths less than 455 nanometers that puts your eyes at risk.
Other Health Risks of High-Intensity Blue Light
High-intensity blue light found in some gadgets like flashlights and toys can affect other aspects of your health beyond your eyes. The blue light photoreceptors in your retinas help maintain your circadian rhythm. This means that being exposed to blue light late in the day can upset your circadian rhythm, then disrupting your sleep and wake cycles. This occurs when the exposure inhibits your brain’s synthesis of melatonin, the natural sleep-promoting hormone.
This disruption of circadian rhythm by blue light found in high-intensity LEDs can also aggravate your metabolic disorders. People with diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer can experience more health issues with prolonged exposure to high-intensity blue light.
According to ANSES, kids are more susceptible to health problems from over-exposure to high-intensity LEDs because of underdeveloped crystalline lenses in their eyes. Young people do not yet have fully matured lenses. Their eyes do not completely filter blue light.
LED lights with a strobe effect, such as because of fluctuations in electric flow, can create other health concerns. Strobing LEDs can lead to headaches, eye fatigue, and a greater risk for accidents.
Safe LED Lights
LED lights are safe if you use the right type of lighting for your home environment. For your home LED lights, purchase warm white bulbs with low blue light concentration. Also, avoid your LED screens before bed. These gadgets include your smartphone, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and other electronics.
Although there are many blue light-blocking filters, screens, and glasses available on the market today, ANSES does not endorse these as effective. Their ability to protect your eyes varies a great deal, particularly since their claim of blue light filtering remains widely unregulated.
Spending a great deal of money on blue light filtering lenses is not necessarily helpful at this time. But you can limit your personal exposure to high-intensity LED lights and the damage they can cause by installing only lower intensity, low blue light bulbs in your home. Put down your devices at night to promote healthy sleep and take regular breaks from your electronic devices to allow your eyes to rest.