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Can LEDs Cause Damage to your Eyes?

LEDs are the ideal alternative to energy-wasting incandescent lamps and to noxious and rather ugly halogen lamps, aren’t they?

After having conquered the market by storm, LEDs were confronted with criticism. „LED-lamps bear the risk of a photochemical damage to the retina“, so the echo of the media since about a year.

However, is there any truth to that?

Criticism is directed at the emitted part of blue luminescence of LED luminaires. For technical reasons, LEDs are not able to produce „white“ light. Similar to the sun, they make use of various spectral colours, among others blue. This seems tob e the root of the problem: blue light is very energetic and could have a negative impact on light sensitive, biological structures as the retina. Nevertheless, it is highly questionable whether LED-light is unhealthy to such an extend, taking into account that people are acting successfully in daylight since more than 2 million years.

To sufficiently warn about the danger of blue light, various publications relate to the conclusion of a survey. For this survey scientists opted for rats as experimental animals. Firstly, it is doubtful whether the eyes of animals can be compared with the eyes of human beings at all. Secondly, the rats were exposed to excessively strong light for several days. People do not use LED-lighting under such conditions and in this way at all.

 

Certainly, the first generations of LEDs are mainly responsible for that bad picture. With a colour temperature of 4.000 Kelvin (K) and more they produced cold-white light inappropriate for a comfortable and cosy environment. In addition, the formerly new technique caused flickering so that people suffered from headaches.

Nowadays, up-to-date top quality LEDs offer new standards. They do not only provide warm-white light (≤ 2.700 K) similar to the former incandescent lamps we sometimes rather miss.  Meanwhile, all spectra of colours are available without any flickering. Thus, LEDs fulfill nearly all requirements – from convenient lighting for any workplace to comfortable and decorative lighting for housing spaces.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Thereto, Germany wouldn’t be Germany without norms for everything and all. For the photobiological  security of luminaires and lamp systems the norm is called DIN EN 62471 and differentiates between four groups from „free of risk“ to „high risk“. Under even stricter conditions than suggested by this norm, the Eidgenössiche Institut für Metrologie (i.e. Swiss Federal Institute for Metrology) has tested the impact of the blue light emitted by LED-luminaires for varying distances. The result of this study: all lamps tested belonged to the „free of risk“, or at most, to risk group „number one“, meaning they are suitable for a direct exposure of 100 to 10.000 seconds without any risk. And really nobody will stare into a lamp for such a long time.

There is absolutely no need to worry, as  long as you don’t install theater lighting in your living room. And for that, there are so many nice alternatives available.

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