The damaging effect of LED lighting on eye health

LED lighting has become extremely popular due to energy saving benefits – but has this come at a cost to our eyes? More people are making use of LED lighting to improve energy efficiency and reducing energy costs. LED’s are also widely used in digital devices such as computers, tablet- and smartphone screens, and are to a degree unavoidable.  However, it is important to understand the effect on eye strain by LED lighting and how to protect your eyes.

All light is essentially radiation and can be a threat to eye health, but not all frequencies are equally harmful. The electromagnetic spectrum ranges from low-frequency waves such as TV signals, Mobile phones, infrared and visible light to high-frequency waves such as sunbeds, X-rays and so on.  LED lighting is a very low frequency which is similar to sunlight. Although sunlight can have a negative effect on your eyes, LED light does not contain Ultraviolet rays (UV) – which can be harmful in the long run and be the cause of cataracts.

However, there are worrying dangers to consider if your eyes are exposed to LED lighting on a regular basis.

Dangers of LED lighting

Light from LED’s can lead to photochemical damage, which is caused by a chemical reaction of the absorption of ultraviolet, infrared radiation or visible light. Photochemical damage is associated with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness.  Looking directly at high power LED’s are considered harmful because of the high levels of HEV (high-energy visible light). One of the features of LED’s is high luminance which is very concentrated. This means LED’s are much brighter per square millimetre. This concentrated energy hits a smaller area when imaged onto the retina, which in turn magnifies the damage to cells protecting the retina.

LED’s also carried the risk of overstimulation – specifically LED’s used in computer-, tablet- and cell phone screens. LED backlit screens to emit light which has a blue-light wavelength. This has an effect on melatonin levels, the hormone that makes you sleepy and starts your sleep cycle. Melatonin is naturally released to prepare your body for rest when it gets dark. Melatonin levels can, however, be influenced by artificial light and more so by blue-light, which mimics natural sunlight.

What to do to protect your eyes against LED’s

  • Take frequent breaks from your computer screen, at least every half hour. Close your eyes for a while and look into the distance
  • Try to blink more while working, this will prevent your eyes from drying out
  • To improve tear function, you have to stimulate the glands in your eyes by covering your eyes with a hot flannel and massaging along the eyelids once a day – make this part of your daily routine
  • Take supplements such as omega 3 oils to improve tear function and vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin to prevent Age-related Macular Degeneration from developing
  • Do eye exercises, for example, read a line close to and then a line in the distance. Repeat this exercise five or ten times a day.
  • Also, remember to rest your eyes after eye exercises by closing your eyes or looking into the distance
  • Wear eyeglasses with the correct lenses, such as SEIKO SuperResistantBlue Lenses to filter out harmful blue traces caused by LED lighting
  • Domestic high luminance LED lighting should be well controlled in order to make sure it remains safe for vision.

Make sure to visit your nearest Dynamic Vision Optometrist for a comprehensive eye test and get customised advice on how to care for your eyes.  Also, have a look at the Dynamic Vision Facebook page for more information on competitions and interesting facts and visit the Find us page for more details on your nearest branch.

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