LED is a new light-emitting device that appeared recently, but it has changed how people around the world light.
These products are safe, environment-friendly, and energy-saving compared to traditional incandescent or fluorescent lamps. However, this product’s potential health risks are still a concern for many people. Are LED lights bad for your health? Then our article will give you the answer. Overall, the blue light from LEDs can cause health problems, especially for your eyes and retina. But these risks are not typical and only appear after prolonged exposure to harmful light rays.
What are LED lights?
LEDs are a combination of ultra-short-wavelength ultraviolet semiconductor chips or blue light. Inside the LED, there is a yellow phosphor coating. This layer of phosphorus has the effect of absorbing a part of monochromatic blue light and emitting light of mixed wavelengths.
LEDs are a modern alternative to traditional incandescent or mercury vapor lamps. These two lights work very differently; you can quickly tell them apart by how they glow.
Traditional incandescent lamps pass electricity through a thin light filament in the center of the bulb.
At that time, the filament will heat up. When the filament reaches a specific temperature, it will glow. Because of this way of working, filament bulbs often give off a lot of heat and get very hot. Mercury vapor lamps emit light using UV rays generated when an electric current passes through mercury vapor.
The phosphor coating inside the bulb absorbs the energy from the ultraviolet rays emitted by this process. This Phosphorus layer will then shine without causing the bulb to overheat, as with filament lamps. However, customers, especially families with children, must be cautious when using mercury vapor lamps. If the bulb is broken, toxic mercury vapor can affect consumers’ health.
They can produce stable light with different colors, bringing convenience to users. Most residential LEDs will emit white light. Some products emit other colored rays for decorative purposes.
Although LED lights have many advantages, the blue light that LED lights emits is a concern for many people. They claim these rays harm the user’s eyes because they damage the retina.
Are LED lights harmful to your health?
The blue light emitted by LED lights can be harmful to human health. However, this only happens when exposed to the lamp for a long time at high intensity.
LED lights are much safer than incandescent and mercury vapor lamps. They cannot cause burns to the user because the heat generated is very little. The inside of the LED lights is also free of harmful components.
However, scientists have verified that LED light can disrupt circadian rhythms. The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Accordingly, blue light inhibits the body’s production of the hormone melatonin, the chemical responsible for putting the body into a state of rest. Therefore, when you work with LEDs rich in blue light, you will feel stressed and have trouble sleeping at night.
However, the harm that LEDs cause is often not so obvious. You will only experience these problems if you are extremely light-sensitive or have to work with toxic light for too long. Therefore, it is entirely safe to use LED lights usually.
How LED lights affect your eyes?
So, can led lights hurt your eyes?
Several factors in the LED light can cause damage to the user’s eyes. LED lights can adversely affect your retina through blue light, glare, flicker, high color temperature, and UV lights.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these aspects below.
Each light color is characterized by different properties in terms of wavelengths and energy levels they emit.
Blue light has a shorter wavelength and higher energy than other colored light rays in the human visible light range.
Accordingly, when blue light reaches our eyes, the harm they cause will be severe compared to other light colors. Exposure to harmful blue light for too long can cause various eye diseases.
Some examples include retinal degeneration, sleep disorders, macular degeneration, or cataracts.
The retina is part of your eye that converts light into nerve impulses. The brain analyzes and gives information about the images from these signals. Because it absorbs and gathers light, the retina becomes extremely sensitive to different light rays.
Spanish scientists in 2012 proved that the damage caused by LED light radiation to the retina is irreversible. Accordingly, eyes affected by harmful light from LED lights will never recover to their original state. The researchers call this damage phototoxicity.
The longer the exposure time to harmful light or the higher the intensity of the blue light rays, the greater the damage to the retina.
If the damage caused by blue light is not too severe, you may experience eye strain or dry eyes. But if the damage is already severe, your eyes will become extremely uncomfortable, and blurred vision can lead to blindness.
As mentioned above, blue light inhibits the body’s synthesis of a sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin.
Our computer and phone screens glow because of the tiny LEDs underneath. Therefore, if you use electronic devices that emit blue light before going to bed, you will find it extremely difficult to fall asleep. Moreover, you will also be exhausted when you wake up the following day.
This LED light’s harmful effects cause changes in our biological rhythms and sleep. When you don’t get enough or deep sleep, your body won’t be able to relax and work well. Your immune, digestive, and nervous systems rely on sleep time to recover.
Therefore, low-quality sleep will significantly affect your health in all aspects.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Next, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can also be a problem where the blue light from LED lights can harm your eyes.
Scientists from the French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Safety and Health (ANSES) have studied this aspect. The results show that the phototoxic effect is one of the causes of macular degeneration.
The photoreceptors produce harmful molecules when exposed to high-intensity blue light for a long time. This ingredient will make the vision aging and severely damaged.
Some people have added blue light filters to their phones and computer screens. However, this measure could be more practical. Harmful light rays can still pass through the protective layer and affect the user’s eyes.
More importantly, there is currently no treatment regimen for AMD. All the doctor can do is stop and slow the degeneration of the patient’s eye.
Then it would help to be careful with the cataracts that blue light can cause.
First, short-wavelength blue light can trigger oxidative reactions in the visual cells. The products of these reactions are toxic, damaging the cells and tissues of your vision. Therefore, users of blue light for a long time will be blurred eyestrain.
Second, the proteins that make up the lens are damaged and changed when exposed to blue light. This damage causes opacity and cataracts. Your eyesight will deteriorate rapidly if this is the case.
Scientists and doctors are still working hard to clarify this issue. They also hope to find soon a solution to prevent and cure blue light-induced cataracts.
Next, blue light can cause glare when looking at the light source for a long time. Glare is a temporary symptom of blue light-induced visual impairment that is reversible.
Accordingly, this phenomenon makes it difficult for your eyes to distinguish small details. Some people find that their eyes don’t see the contrast and depth of the image when it’s flared.
However, vision damage can worsen if you do not protect your eyes. Even the harm LED lights cause to your eyes through eye diseases will be permanent.
The level of glare from LED lights can vary depending on several factors, including the intensity of the light source, the distance between the light head and your eyes, and the angle at which the light hits your eyes.
To reduce the effects of glare from LED lights, you can adjust the lighting in your environment by using dimmer switches or lampshades to soften the intensity of the light. You can also position your computer or mobile device screen perpendicular to nearby windows or light sources.
Additionally, wearing anti-glare or computer glasses with blue light-blocking technology can help reduce the glare and blue light entering your eyes, protecting them from potential damage and discomfort.
Currently, some residential areas use flashing LEDs for decoration. However, in contrast to the advantages of visual effects that this device creates, they also cause many significant harms.
People with high visual sensitivity will quickly feel uncomfortable looking at flickering light sources. In severe cases, they may experience convulsions or extreme headaches.
You may have noticed this problem a while ago. But when looking at the flickering light for a long time, you will clearly feel these problems.
Low-frequency flicker, typically below 100 Hz which is widely known as Visible Flickering, can cause headaches, eyestrain, and fatigue. High-frequency flicker, typically above 1000 Hz, is not visible to the human eye but can still cause problems, such as interference with electronic devices.
To minimize the impact of LED flicker on your eyes, it is recommended to choose LED lights that have a high-frequency flicker rate, typically above 5000 Hz. Additionally, taking breaks from looking at LED screens and avoiding using LED lights in dark environments can also help reduce the impact of flicker on your eyes.
High color temperature
In addition, LEDs with high color temperatures are also more harmful than other devices.
The color temperature of lighting fixtures is very much related to the light they produce. Lamps with a high color temperature give off a bluish-white light with short wavelength rays. In particular, LEDs with color temperatures above 4000K contain a lot of blue light. In contrast, low-color temperature LED bulbs will produce long wavelength warm yellow light.
Accordingly, lamps with high color temperatures will cause strain on your eyes. The blue light emitted from this light source will significantly impact user health through eye diseases and other health problems.
UV rays are light rays with a wavelength of about 350 nm. These light rays carry very high energy, causing significant effects on the user’s health.
You can find out more about how lighting affects our health in: Effects of Lighting
Conventional LED lights only emit a little UV light. However, some poor-quality LED products can produce harmful UV rays. If exposed for a long time, these rays harm your eyes and can cause skin cancer.
However, some low-quality LED lights may emit more UV radiation than they should. In general, it is recommended to use high-quality LED lights that meet safety standards and have been tested for UV radiation.
Exposure to UV radiation can cause damage to the eyes over time, including cataracts and other vision problems. To protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation, you can wear sunglasses with UV protection when outdoors and ensure your indoor lighting is safe and high-quality.
How to protect eyes from LED lights
In the above content, you can already see the potential risks that the blue light in LEDs causes.
While the blue light in LEDs doesn’t cause too much damage, you’ll get in trouble if you’re exposed to this harmful light for too long. Therefore, you will need to take measures to protect the health of yourself and your family.
Reduce screen time
First, you should only use electronic devices that emit blue light briefly. Watching TV or using your phone or computer for too long can cause your eyes to get tired, blurry, and dazzled.
In case you need to work with these devices, make sure you have a reasonable rest period. Regularly relaxing your eyes after work will help your eyes reduce stress, recover and avoid dryness and fatigue.
In particular, you should limit the use of phones and devices that emit blue light at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. It will help you sleep better and more profoundly without interruption.
Using warm white LED light
Next, using light types with low color temperatures is also a smart choice. Reports released by ANSES have recommended that people use warm white light instead of cool white LEDs. These devices emit less blue light and do not harm users’ health.
It would help if you used lamps with a color temperature below 3000K. In particular, you need to use these low-color temperature lamps for your bedroom. Warm yellow light without blue rays will support you to rest and relax.
Doctors all recommend taking periodic breaks after looking at screens of electronic devices for some time.
Every 20 minutes, you can see 20 feet away 20 times so your eyes can adjust and relax. Regularly performing this exercise will help protect your eyesight, limit dryness, and eye strain when working.
Wearing blue light glasses
Then you can choose to buy anti-blue light glasses devices. The lenses of these items have been carefully treated and coated with a protective layer that prevents harmful light rays from entering. This filter will keep your eyes from being exposed to harmful components of the light source.
However, this solution is not feasible. The current anti-blue light glasses regulations must be clarified, leading to many fake and poor-quality products. It would help to shop at reputable stores to find the right product and avoid buying fakes.
Regular eye exams
Finally, you should see your ophthalmologist once a year to detect problems early. When eye diseases are detected early, it is easier to treat and avoid the consequences later. You will receive active support from medical organizations if you have an eye disease.
LED lights or fluorescent lights – which one is better for the eyes?
LEDs are a better choice than fluorescents for user health and the environment.
For the environment, LED lights do not contain harmful substances that can cause pollution, like fluorescent lamps. LEDs have no mercury vapor, so you don’t need to worry about getting poisoned if the device breaks. Moreover, LEDs do not emit harmful ultraviolet rays, so they will not harm your corneas and skin.
Especially with human health, LED lights are more friendly than traditional fluorescent lamps. LEDs reduce blue light emissions compared to fluorescent fixtures, so you won’t experience too much eye strain when using LEDs.
Plus, the color rendering of LEDs is also better than that of fluorescents. The CRI of LEDs is usually higher, providing natural and accurate color effects. As a result, you can see objects simply and clearly, without eye strain.
The energy saving of LEDs is also higher than that of fluorescent lamps. Since LED lights only need an electric current to glow, they don’t generate too much heat. A large part of the bulb’s electricity will be converted into light energy for lighting instead of becoming heat.
After all, LEDs’ lifespan is longer than traditional fluorescent bulbs. As a result, you will use the device longer, limiting spending money on buying new bulbs. You do not need to spend much extra money installing light fixtures.
LED lights are awful for your health only if you use a toxic light source for a long time.
The harmful effects of LED lights on your eyes are mainly through the harmful high-energy blue light rays. These rays cause damage to not only your cornea and lens, but also sleep disorders and cancer. The user’s eyes will be tired, glare, and fade after working with blue light.
You can limit these effects by getting regular and reasonable rest. You should avoid using electronic devices for long periods. Plus, Emberlight suggest that It could be better to use warm-colored LED lights and eye protection. Regular eye exams are also essential, helping you detect health problems as early as possible.
Hope you choose the right light source for yourself!