Can LED Screens Damage Our Eyesight?

As of now not really!

There are various media outlets trying to bring a new spin to the story of LED lighting and eyes. LED lighting has improved efficiency as well as reduced power consumption. I feel this need to be seen objectively supported by actual evidence and not the hypothesis of scientists in a lab. This is important to prevent panic among people needlessly.

The effects of blue light on our circadian rhythm (Biological Clock) and in the pathogenesis of Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) of the eye is very well known.

I did some research regarding the affect of LED lighting on eyesight.

At present, there are only some in-vitro studies like this one supporting the hypothesis that LED lights can harm eyesight

The above study showed that some wavelengths downregulated some genes controlling the production of anti-oxidants in the Retinal Pigment Epithelial (RPE) cells in a petri-dish.

Some studies have been done on mice retina which shows that light in the blue spectrum may cause retinal damage

“Taken together these data indicate that the blue component of the LED is the major cause of retinal damage, as has been previously predicted. In addition, the current regulation establishes that for an exposure greater than 10,000s, ELV, expressed in term of blue light radiance, is about 100W/m2/sr. Regulations should be reevaluated by transposing our results to the human eye.

Moreover, the reduced size of LEDs allows the production of composite sources of very high luminance. This introduces a cautionary note on their use in domestic lighting that needs to be extremely controlled to remain safe for vision”

Many studies such as the above have made Public Health England create a group devoted to determining the potential risks of all novel light-emitting devices.

This has resulted in a few more studies on circumstantial evidence studies on human eyes such as these

This study only warns regarding importance to be given to spectrum in the LED light but no proven effects on human eyes that can be documented.

“Given that novel light sources are rapidly reaching the marketplace for domestic and commercial lighting, attention must be paid to the spectral emission of such sources as well as their overall luminance. It should be remembered that millions of years of evolution were governed by an approximate 12-h light–dark cycle and that we are really the first generation to have had daylight levels of lighting under fingertip control. In nature, transitions from dark to light and light to dark were gradual, giving biological systems time to adjust. By contrast, light levels induced by artificial sources are acute and can occur at any time during circadian rhythms. Worldwide light levels are now approaching levels of what could be described as light pollution. The impact of such levels using novel wavelengths and random illumination times must be considered in relation to age-related eye diseases.”

The final word has to be from this article by the same group which evaluated whether there was any need to issue advice regarding public health concerns of LED lighting.

This article dismisses the notion that we are exceeding safe limits of tolerable radiation/luminance. The present light exposure to LED lights does not exceed safe limits prescribed and does not even exceed light exposure when looking at the blue sky. So there is no need to worry about LED lighting at present but with a word of caution that domestic/commercial lighting should limit some spectrums and subject to more studies that need to be done.

“In conclusion, under even extreme long-term viewing conditions, none of the assessed sources suggested cause for concern for public health. The worst assessed source consisted of three indicator LEDs, which were unlikely to be viewed close up for long enough to cause concern. However, these sources were representative of indicator lamps that did not require the assessed luminance for their intended function. The percentage transmission of blue light from the corneal surface to the retina is age-related, with the transmission for children higher than for adults. Therefore, where such sources are uncomfortable to view for adults, they could be distressing for children.

A number of sources were assessed and the exposure conditions were compared with international exposure limits, and the exposure likely to be received from staring at a blue sky. None of the sources assessed approached the exposure limits, even for extended viewing times.”

So we can be reassured for now that there is no direct evidence of eye damage by LED lamps.

I do not have any financial interests to declare regarding the above article and it is intended to educate the general public including medical professionals about eye conditions.

This above article is based on the answer I wrote in Quora.

Will LED lighting harm our eyesight?

References:

1. Illumination from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) disrupts pathological cytokines expression and activates relevant signal pathways in primary human retinal pigment epithelial cells; Experimental Eye Research.

2. Retinal damage induced by commercial light emitting diodes (LEDs); Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Vol- 84, July 2015, 373-384.

3. Light in man’s environment; Eye 30, 211-214 (February 2016).

4. Low-energy light bulbs, computers, tablets and the blue light hazard; Eye 30, 230-233 (February 2016).

Published by Dr. Raghuraj Hegde

Free thinker| Poet| Writer| Traveller| Doctor| Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon

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