Are LED Lights Bad For Your Eyes?

Heather Clouse
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Health Concerns

There are two main concerns about LED lights that the general public has. Unfortunately, these concerns are unfounded, or at the very least, have been blown out of proportion.

LED lights contain light in the blue spectrum, which can lead to blue light related damage to your eyes.

LED lights can cause decreased night vision.

How do you respond to those last two concerns?


{1}. This is not really a concern in a well-made LED fixture. High-quality LED fixtures usually produce light that is more in the green spectrum with a little bit of blue.
{2}. LED lights don’t harm your night vision. The blue light from LEDs won’t disrupt your vision.

The Well Known Blue Light Issue

LED lights are an excellent money-saving and energy-saving alternative if compared to other sources of lighting.LED bulbs are also very appealing, due to their long lifespan and low energy consumption.

However, prolonged exposure to LED light can cause eye problems. One of the effects of blue light is shortening a person’s natural sleep cycle, affecting their sleep cycle by suppressing melatonin levels.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted in the pineal gland located in your brain. Its function is to keep you awake during the day and asleep at night.

Long-term suppression of melatonin can cause sleep problems like insomnia. In addition, early exposure to blue light may cause myopia (near-sightedness), a condition that affects tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Studies have found the risk of developing myopia is highest among children and young adults, especially those who spend time doing activities involving extensive use of electronic devices or who are exposed to artificial blue light at night.

In addition, the risk of myopia may increase as the number of hours spent in front of digital devices increases.

Lastly, prolonged exposure to blue light at night, especially from screens, may affect your mood and your quality of sleep.

Minimize Exposure

The perceived intensity of light correlates to the power of the illuminant in lumens and the sensitivity of your eyes scales linearly. This means that doubling the intensity of the light from a given source will result in the perception of it being twice as bright.

Although the eye’s sensitivity is logarithmic, the brain’s perception of intensity when viewing an image is dependent on the contrast of the image. That means that if you have a threshold of 50 lumens, and you’re working in a room with 100 lumens of light, then you will perceive that room to be just a bit brighter than the room with 50 lumens, even though the rooms are the same intensity.

LED lights can have an effective lumen output of up to 225 lumens. So you can see why it’s better to use them when necessary and wear High-Res vision when using them.

The duration of exposure is also a large factor as to how much it will affect your vision. If you look at the sun for a split second or stare at an LED light for that long, you’ll have little to no effect on your vision, but if you look at it for an hour, there will be noticeable changes.

Protect Your Eyes

One of the first and most practical considerations when choosing a light source is protection of your eyes.

Old school incandescent bulbs produce harmful IR radiation which is classified as UV.

But LEDs are not UV-emitting devices. This is a simple fact. Period.

So where did the urban legend come from? The whole “LED bulbs cause cancer” part?

In my humble opinion, the following paragraphs may contain some of the answers. Please consider following familiar companies such as Philips and Osram whose subsidiaries as well as their official websites publish contradicting information with respect to the ICRI (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) recommendations.

The ICRI publishes annual safety recommendations based on the latest research and makes them available to LED manufacturers.

According to the ICRI, “LED devices are subject to the same regulations as other forms of lamps or other light sources. This means that most products comply with the safety recommendations issued by ICNIRP. Manufacturers also apply internal safety regulations higher than those laid down by ICNIRP. This is based on their internal assessment of the risk for chronic damage to the retina from the infrared radiation contained in LED light sources.”

The LED industry tests every single product before release to market.

Eye Self Care

The eyes are fragile and with the demands of modern life, can start to feel stressed. Protect your eyes by designating time for self-care. Find time to sit back, relax, unplug and recharge.

Lower the brightness on your workstation or find some noise cancelling headphones that work for you.

It’s possible that the cause of your eye strain isn’t necessarily the quality of the lighting, but the energy or light wavelength it emits.

Quite often we are surprised to find that the lights in our office are the same as the lights at home. Both are potentially good for light therapy, but not necessarily good for us.

Some colors of lights not only change our physical energy, but even affect our moods.

You can take a quick test to see how much light is healthy to your eyes.

Get into a dark room and turn on your smartphone. Light up the screen and take a look around. It should look white or very close to white. Your eyes are essentially supposed to take one of three colors of light.

Blue, Green, Orange.

When looking around your room, if it looks orange, then use orange light to help your eyes refocus when they feel strained.

If there is a little blue light in the room, then that’s the best kind of light for your eyes.

Are LED lights bad for my eyes?

LED bulbs, as the name suggests, use light-emitting diodes to give off light. This is different from conventional incandescent bulbs that use a filament to emit visible light. Some LED lights are visible and some are not. As with most electronic devices, there are some hazards associated with LED lights.

Centerline lighting is meant to reduce the glare and discomfort that comes with LED traffic lights. However, this has an adverse effect on the driver’s nighttime vision. In a study conducted by the University of Florida, the hue of the LED lights was set at a color temperature of 5800 Kelvin (K). It was found that a color setting of above 5600 K and below 6500 K makes it difficult for drivers to adjust to the night.

This, in turn, makes night driving more dangerous. To get the same visual effect as 6000k, 8000K LED lights have to be used. This, in turn, consumes more energy than the normal 3000K and 5000K bulbs.

LED lights are known to cause discomfort for drivers. This is due to the fact that the flashes of LEDs are much more intense than the same flashes of normal light.

LED show lights are used to produce fancy, colorful and sometimes 3-D projections on ceilings and walls. These lights are designed to be very bright, which can hamper your vision.