Artificial Light and Vision: Can Artificial Lighting Damage Your Eyesight?

Artificial Light and Vision
Research shows that fluorescent and LED lighting could damage your eyesight.

Have you ever noticed your eyes becoming more sensitive in a brightly lit and glare-filled environment? Our vision adjusts to the environment we’re in, making it easier for us to see in darkness and easier to make out detail during a bright summer’s day.

When you spend your time in naturally lit environments, this is rarely an issue. With the sun naturally regulating the amount of light your eyes come into contact with, it is rare for there to ever be too much or too little light for you to see comfortably.

The modern office, however, and particularly modern office lighting, throws what’s natural on its head. Many late 20th century and 21st century offices are dependent on artificial lighting – lighting that’s often unnaturally bright, white and powerful.

Can this lighting have a negative effect on your eyesight? We looked at some of the leading science to find out if working in an artificially lit environment can have any long term consequences for your eyesight or potentially lead to damage.

LED lighting could lead to long-term vision damage

We’ve discussed the effects of artificial lighting on your body at length on this blog, with a focus on its effects on productivity and health. Spending too much time in an artificially lit environment reduces productivity, focus and even your health.

It also, based on new research, has a negative effect on your vision. LED lighting, a form of lighting used in everything from interior lighting to computer monitors and televisions, could potentially lead to long-term vision damage.

According to Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos, the light emitted by LEDs is form the short-wave, high-energy range of the light spectrum. This light, when it’s concentrated, is linked to damage of your retinas.

Spending a small amount of time exposed to LED light is unlikely to result in real damage to your eyesight, but long hours spent in front of the computer screen – or, in the case of many professionals, in an artificially lit office – could have an effect.

Sánchez-Ramos, who works with the Complutense University in Madrid, claims that the damage could be irreversible. Excessive use of electronic devices is considered a leading cause of the potential LED-related eyesight damage.

Computers and smartphones play a major role

Damage may not just be linked to LED interior lighting – a type of lighting that’s now increasingly popular in many homes and offices – but due to the rising use of laptop computers and smartphones, many of which use LED screens.

Spending long hours in the office, particularly in front of a computer, could put your eyes in an unnatural state and lead to damage. More natural surroundings, and more natural sources of light, typically result in healthier, less damaged eyes.

Sánchez-Ramos claims that eyes “aren’t designed to look directly at light – they are designed to see with light.” Naturally lit environments that are built around light, in most cases, are healthier than those built to create light itself.

LED lighting isn’t the only source of vision damage

Although LED lighting is of particular concern, primarily due to the massive growth in the number of smartphone users in recent years, it’s not the only type of artificial lighting that can potentially cause vision damage.

Fluorescent lighting – a type of lighting typically found in late 20th century offices – is also a potential cause of damage. The reason for this is that the level of light CFL lighting emits often contains far more UV radiation than typical natural lighting.

The end result is an unnatural environment – one that has a negative effect on an incredible range of biological functions, from the body’s immune system to focus, productivity and the ability to maintain a healthy biological clock.

Spending time out of artificial environments is the best solution

Avoiding damage to your eyesight is relatively simple: spend less time in offices or other environments lit by LED or CFL lighting and more time outside or in settings where natural sunlight is the primary type of light.

From installing skylights to simply drawing the blinds and allowing more natural light to enter your work environment, it’s surprisingly easy to change your work environment from unhealthy – and potentially damaging – to natural and healthy.

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