LEDs are safer than incandescent bulbs, tube lights and CFLs, which cause eye strain, migraines and disturbed sleep patterns. Among LEDs, choose white LEDs over red ones, due to low lead and arsenic content. Avoid excess brightness and make sure lights are enough for reading. Natural sunlight saves energy and is good for health. Avoid lights during the day.
Artificial lighting has a direct impact on your health. We often experience eye strain, headaches and irritable behavior if exposed to harsh lighting. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has revealed that certain types of electric lights can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, blood pressure fluctuations and cancer.
Let us first understand the different types of artificial light we have used so far in our homes and offices.
The history of artificial lighting began with incandescent bulbs which consume more energy. Also, their harsh, yellow light has a negative impact on the eyes. These types of bulbs are high in red, orange and yellow frequencies which make people squint in its bright light as they first reach the cones in the eye. The yellow frequency is not absorbed which is why you experience a glare from incandescent bulbs. This glare can cause eye strain and also lead to shortsightedness or myopia. The incandescent bulb also has a tendency to get overheated as it gives out thermal radiation. Reading under this type of bulb can cause watery eyes and headache from the thermal radiation.
The invention of tube lights came as a welcome change after incandescent bulbs. They quickly found their way into most homes and offices. Studies have shown that tube lights can suppress melatonin production, the hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. The bluish-yellow frequency from tube light rays can aggravate symptoms of migraine, autism or Asperger syndrome. The cool white color also has an adverse effect on your biorhythms. Another concern is the constant flicker, which is not noticeable unless you watch closely, and its negative impact on your eyes.
CFL And LED Bulbs
The Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are highly energy efficient. They emit a cool, white frequency light and hence cause less eyestrain.
But, several scientists and researchers have voiced their concerns on their safety of CFLs:
- UK’s top eye expert Dr. John Marshall claims that CFLs damage the retina and cause macular degeneration in the long run.
- The ultraviolet waves from CFLs also increase the risk of eye cataracts.
- Professor John Hawk, retired head of photobiology at the St. John’s Institute of Dermatology, King’s College, London warns that the ultraviolet emission from CFLs can damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.
- CFLs may also cause symptoms like prickly heat, rashes, redness, itching and eye irritation.
- Professor Hawk also believes that the constant flickers from CFLs irritate people with a migraine and also trigger epileptic fits and headaches.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is also another side effect of CFLs.
The worries with LED lighting are almost similar.
The semiconductor diode that releases light energy has a harmful impact on human eyes and skin. LED lighting can damage the retina and ultimately lead to blindness. However, Dan Roberts, Director of Macular Degeneration Support, a non-profit based out of Missouri claims that the harm caused by LED can be limited by inbuilt protection in the product. LEDs are directional lights unlike the 360-degree lighting of CFLs. The blue light frequency from LEDs can damage the retina if you are prone to macular issues due to genes, age, comorbidity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Choosing The Best House Lights
Out of the 4 types of artificial lighting, LEDs are safer if they come with inbuilt protection unit. White LED lighting definitely has lesser lead and arsenic than its high-intensity red light counterparts. So, choose the white option with the right wattage and brightness depending on the space within each room. Do not unnecessarily go for excess brightness which can be damaging in the long run. Make sure the lights are enough for reading, especially during the night.
If your home has enough natural lighting, make sure to take advantage of it during the day. Avoid switching on artificial lights during the day if you get enough natural sunlight. If you are constructing a new home, spend some time understanding the best way to maximize natural light. Ask your architect to suggest skylight windows at better locations so that your entire house can be filled with sunlight during the day.