Wherever you personally stand on environmental issues, we can agree that new solutions are everywhere! The innovation of affordable, long lasting LED lights stand among the most prominent, and simple, solutions available. They have obvious appeal: replace light bulbs less, save money on energy bills, and protect the environment. Who wouldn’t want to take part?
Unfortunately, there might be a downside, it turns out. The Daily Mail published an article examining the shocking connection between these bulbs and vision issues, including blindness. Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos’ research on the subject suggests the connection goes beyond bulbs alone. LED light technology has long been used in “mobile phones, televisions, [and] computer screens” as well as bulbs. Ocular exposure to these light sources leads to various problems.
Light-emitting diodes (LED) use shortwave light, often called “cool” in color. LED light’s description as cool comes in comparison to traditional home lighting, often called “warm.” The cool light comes from the blue part of the color spectrum. The Daily Mail reports “that prolonged, continuous exposure to this light may be enough to damage a person’s retina.”
Dr. Sánchez-Ramos’ research supports this idea by noting a frightening connection between LED and eye damage. Her study from 2012 “found that LED radiation caused significant damage to human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro.” In other words, the artificial blue light emitted from these bulbs and devices cause damage to your eyes on a cellular level.
Blue Light Natural and Otherwise
You may ask yourself, “Isn’t there blue light in nature? Does that light also damage my eyes?” The sun does, indeed, emit blue light. The difference here comes in how your eyes experience the light. The sun provides light, but rarely do you look directly at it. Doing so, as we all know, may cause irreparable damage. The light sources we create in LED bulbs and digital devices, however, lack the intensity of the sun. You can, and do, stare directly at these lights frequently and for extended periods.
Unfortunately, while the light sources don’t cause the immediate pain and recoil caused by the sun, they still damage our eyes. As Dr. Sánchez-Ramos put it, “Eyes are not designed to look directly at light — they are designed to see with light.” Again, the damage caused by looking at a screen, or lightbulb may be minimal in the moment. Over time, prolonged exposure (such as through a cell phone, television, or light bulb) causes more and more damage.
“LED lights” may not exactly “cause BLINDNESS” as provocatively stated in Daily Mail’s article. Nevertheless, the damage they do cause should not be ignored. Consciousness about what you do to your eyes can only help you in the long run. You may not be able to escape LED light entirely, nor would you likely want to. However, finding ways to moderate your exposure to harmful artificial blue light should be on your to-do list.