LED lights and your eyes

Young woman considering LED light bulbs in a store

Did you know that there is growing evidence that the blue light emitted by LED lights may not be great for your eyes? This energy efficient lighting alternative has come under increasing scrutiny.

LED stands for light-emitting diodes and this type of light can be found everywhere:

  • household light bulbs
  • strip lighting (very popular with computer geeks and gamers)
  • lights in toys
  • super bright headlights in vehicles
  • televisions
  • cellphones and computer screens
  • and the list goes on

Most of us are familiar with the warning that too much screen time — too much blue light, which is the light emitted by LEDs — especially right before going to sleep can be disruptive to our sleep cycles. There’s more to this story, it turns out.

LED Potential for Eye Damage

There is increasing evidence that exposure to intense blue light from LEDs could damage the retina in your eye. It’s also associated with a rise in the risk of age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in people over age 50) according to a 2019 study by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES).

While the science points to damaging exposure coming from the highest, most intense levels of light from LEDs (typically automobile headlights, flashflights, some children’s toys) rather than our day to day household lighting, the science is also very new.

There is also a strobe effect from some LED lights that is caused by micro fluctuations in the electric current. In some individuals, this can lead to headaches and vision fatigue.

We know that children’s eyes are at greater risk, as they are not able to filter blue light as effectively as adults can. This means that limiting screen time is particularly important for very young children when possible. With increased screen time being an unavoidable reality under our current lockdown measures, remember to encourage your kids to follow some simple rules to rest their eyes.

What You Can Do

Simple changes that you can make to stay on the side of caution include:

  • switching to “warm white” LED lights throughout your home (many of us find this warmer light more appealing anyway)
  • being mindful about total daily screen time, especially in children (and at least taking time to make sure they rest their eyes when it’s unavoidable)
  • avoid screen time at least an hour before turning in to sleep

We continue to watch for the latest research on LEDs and eye health and we’ll share more here as we learn more.

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