LED (light-emitting diode) lights stand tall as one of the most helpful developments of the modern age. These lights have obvious appeal—they reduce the need to replace light bulbs, protect the environment, and reduce the cost of energy bills. LED light technology is used in light bulbs and to illuminate the screens of digital devices, such as cell phones, iPads, TVs, computers, and watches, just to name a few. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of this innovative, energy-saving solution?
While LED lights are undoubtedly a groundbreaking invention, they also come with a downside. In this article, we’ll be discussing the risks associated with LED light exposure, as well as how you can protect your eyes from this light source.
Are LED lights harmful to your eyes?
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.
LED lights produce short-wave, high-energy blue light. This type of light has been associated with “blue light hazard,” which refers to the potential photochemical damage of the retina caused by an intense light source.
Scientists from the U.S. and Europe warn that LED lights could be causing people harm. Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos is a scientist based out of Complutense University in Madrid who has studied the connection between LED lights and vision problems. She led a study in 2012 that found that “LED radiation caused significant damage to the retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro.” Translation? The artificial blue light emitted from bulbs and devices may cause damage to the eyes on a cellular level.
In one of Sánchez-Ramos’ later studies, retinas of animals exposed to an LED screen for three months (in daily cycles of 16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness) showed a 23 percent retinal cell death.
In 2019, the French Agency for Food and Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) warned of the “phototoxic effects” of blue light exposure, including an increased risk for age-related macular degeneration.
While clinical trials are needed in humans, the available research indicates that retinal damage in response to LED light exposure is possible in living beings. So, are LED lights safe or not? In our opinion, the available research is enough to raise concern and take steps to protect your eyes from LED blue light exposure.
Blue light: natural vs. artificial
You may be wondering, “Doesn’t the sun emit blue light? Does that light also damage my eyes?” The sun does indeed emit blue light. The difference comes down to how your eyes experience the light. The sun provides light, but rarely do you look directly at it, as doing so can cause irreparable damage. The artificial blue light that comes from bulbs and digital screens lack the intensity of the sun, however, people can (and do) frequently stare directly at these blue light sources for extended periods of time and at a much closer proximity.
While the blue light emitted from bulbs and digital devices doesn’t cause the immediate pain and recoil caused by the sun, it can still have the potential to damage your eyes. As Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos puts it in the Daily Mail article, “Eyes are not designed to look directly at light—they are designed to see with light.”
The damage caused by looking at a screen or light bulb may be minimal at the moment, but over time, prolonged exposure (such as through regular use of a cell phone or computer) may cause more significant repercussions.
How do you protect your eyes from LED lights?
Now, this doesn’t mean you should toss your iPhone and laptop in the trash. Thankfully, there’s a simple, cost-effective way to reduce blue light exposure while using digital devices: blue light blocking glasses.
GUNNAR offers a range of gaming and computer glasses that can be worn while using digital devices to block blue light and minimize the side effects of blue light exposure.
GUNNAR patented lens technology
GUNNAR is the only patented gaming and computer eyewear that’s recommended by doctors to protect and enhance your vision. These stylish glasses are designed to block blue light, reduce digital eye strain, prevent dry eyes, minimize glare, and help you sleep better. These benefits result in improved clarity and focus, allowing you to perform at your best, whether you’re gaming or at work.
Let’s take a closer look at how exactly GUNNAR’s lens technology helps with the issues mentioned above:
Reduce digital eye strain: The lens design enhances focus at close range to ease eye strain and provide sharper, clearer vision.
Block blue light: The lens tint filters artificial blue light emitted from digital screens to sharpen contrast, protect the eyes, and reduce sleep disturbances. We use our GUNNAR Blue Light Filter (GBLF) scale to measure eye protection at the peak of the blue light spectrum (450 nanometers). A GBLF of 65, for example, blocks 65% of blue light at the peak of the blue light spectrum. GUNNAR glasses are available in various lens tints, including Amber Max (GBLF 98), Sun (GBLF 90), Amber (GBLF 65), and Clear (GBLF 35).
Sleep better: Artificial blue light has been shown to disrupt melatonin production and circadian rhythm, causing people to struggle with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. GUNNAR lens technology blocks blue light, which helps maintain the body’s natural sleep cycle (or circadian rhythm).
Prevent dry eyes: The lens shape is wrapped to limit air currents and maintain humidity, which sharpens detail and reduces strain and dry eyes.
Minimize glare: The lens coating reduces glare and reflective light to eliminate visual stress and distractions, making for a more pleasant and productive visual experience.
The bottom line
While more research needs to be done to conclusively determine the extent of the damage LED light can cause in humans, is your vision and eye health really something you want to put at risk—especially when there’s an easy way to block artificial blue light?
GUNNAR’s stylish line of blue light glasses offers a simple, cost-effective solution to artificial blue light exposure. Simply slip on a pair of GUNNAR’s while gaming, surfing the web, or doing computer work to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light.