LED lights have fast become the go-to lighting for both businesses and homes.
The Department of Energy estimates they will represent nearly half of all emitted light sources by 2020. However, being they are so widespread, do they have any adverse effects on people’s eyes?
Types Of Light
At one end of the spectrum of light is low-frequency infrared light which is invisible to the naked eye. We experience this type of light as heat. This type of light is emitted from the sun and causes deep skin damage over a long period of exposure.
The visible spectrum includes colors violet, blue, green, yellow, and red. This is poorly stopped by pigmentation in the eyes. Most of this visible light is short wave UVB and has more energy in comparison to long wave UVA. This is the most damaging to superficial layers of the skin and eyes.
The most important aspect of light emitted form all sources is its spectral power. The sun can cause more damage to the eyes and skin than other light sources due to its power and the forms of light it emits.
Sources Of LED Light
LED light technology is now in many popular computing devices and home appliances. These include:
- LED lights
- Flat-screen LED televisions
- Computer monitors
- Tablet screens
LED light Dangers
LED’s emit ultraviolet light which harms both the skin and eyes. The health consequences on the eyes over the long term are numerous. The damage to the cornea and retina can lead to cataracts or pinguecula (yellow spots on the whites of the eyes).
Blue Light Risks
Blue light is the most damaging aspect of LED light on the human eyes. The blue light wavelength penetrates deep into the retina, and with enough exposure will damage the photoreceptors. Especially look out for blue-violet light which is found to be the most harmful.
Some of the risks to the eyes from blue light include:
- Macular degeneration
- Eye cancers
- Difficulty falling asleep
In fact, because blue light makes it more difficult to fall asleep, people with the seasonal affective disorder in northern and wintery climates can benefit from blue light exposure at certain times of the day to help regulate their mood and sleep patterns.
However, blue light does not necessarily mean danger to the eyes. The risk to the retina depends on meeting one (or more) of four conditions:
1. Being directly in the line of the light source
2. Being too near the light source
3. Being exposed to the light source for too long
4. High light intensity
LED’s are actually missing a beneficial type of light, called near-infrared light (NIR). This type of light helps the cells in the retina repair and regenerate. The sun, halogen bulbs and incandescent bulbs emit near-infrared light. In fact, some medical applications use NIR to heal wounds.
LED’s tend to flicker more than other types of lights. If your LED’s are color changing or dimmable, they will flicker very quickly which you cannot see. This flickering has an effect on your biology and can have some harmful effects over time. Older light and TV technology has more noticeable flicker, but LED’s have so fast you cannot see it.
LED VS Incandescent VS Flourescent VS Halogen VS Full Spectrum
LED lights are popular, but they are not the only type of light out there. There are different types of lights available to purchase to use in your home and office. These include incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, and full-spectrum lights.
The light bulbs that emit the highest amount of blue light are LEDs and fluorescent lights. Your smartphones, tablets, and computer screens also emit blue light. However, incandescent bulbs emit only a small amount of blue light. Even though they are an older technology, perhaps these are a safer option for people who worry about potential eye damage from LEDs.
Are LED Lights Safe For Eyes?
LED lights are not entirely safe for the eyes, but the jury is still out as to how bad they actually are. They may actually be beneficial, in some respects. There is no definitive study that says you should stop using LED lights or devices that emit these types of light.
Are LED Lights Dimmable?
Some LED lights can be dimmed, so the user can adjust their brightness. However, not all LED’s are dimmable so you must check the packaging or product description for a clear statement that they are. If no explicit statement that they are is on the packaging, then the lamp cannot be dimmed.
LED Filters And Blinds
UV resistant glass windows are installed in many new homes and office buildings. This prevents bad light from entering the building and harming people’s eyes. This light is actually better than the flourescent lights in your office.
Tablest, smartphones, and computer screens can also have filters added which will lower the level of blue light emitted. You can find these for purchase online and will help protect your retinas.
LED lights are not as good as other types of lights emitting light in all directions. If you adjust the light away from your eyes, this can help.
LED light technology has been a boon to our modern daily lives and allowed our society to use less energy, which helps keeps the planet liveable. Despite the potential negative health effects of too much blue light exposure, you do not have to worry about getting rid of your LED screens and lights anytime soon.