How Different Kinds of Lighting Impact Your Eyes

When it comes to lighting, it’s easy to get caught up in elements such as pricing and lumens ratings, forgetting about other elements that are just as crucial.

One important factor that often gets overlooked with lighting is how it impacts our eyes. Since our vision is so important to our daily lives, it is vital that we protect it from any damage that certain kinds of light can do, while also maximizing the benefits light can have for our eyes. With good lighting design and a sense of when and where to use certain types of lighting, we can help our eyes stay healthy and strong.

Certain types of lighting affect our eyes differently. Fluorescent and LED lighting, for example, fall generally more towards the blue end of the light spectrum, which can often be stimulating to the human eye. Incandescent lighting, on the other hand, is generally a warmer light that falls more towards the yellow and red ends of the light spectrum.

Different Types of Light

The light that humans see is a small section of the electromagnetic spectrum. On one end of the whole, the invisible spectrum is the short wavelengths of gamma rays, and on the other end is radio waves, including radar and FM or AM radio waves, which have longer, more spread out wavelengths.

The electromagnetic waves that we see, also known as visible light or simply light, are then divided up into different colors, depending on where they land on the spectrum. Divided into colors such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet light, they combine to form the powerful white light of the sun that we experience every day.

These different light colors affect our eyes differently. The more energetic forms of visible light especially have a significant impact on our vision. Though there are some benefits, these more powerful, shorter wavelengths of blue and violet light also pose some danger to the human eye. First, we’ll see how the UV radiation from the sun and some types of lighting affect the human eye.

UV and how it affects your eyes

UV, or ultraviolet, radiation is just beyond being visible to human beings. Even though we can’t see this part of the electromagnetic spectrum, it is important we are aware of it because of how UV affects our bodies. It has both a positive and negative effect our skin, eyes, and in extreme cases can even damage our DNA. On one hand, it provides us with the necessary vitamin D nutrients. On the other, our skin and eyes can be negatively impacted by too much UV.

Because of this, it's important that you always wear sunglasses if you are out bright sunlight. The UV that comes from the sun can damage your eyes and skin, causing various problems down the road. Though sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the bright white light of the sun and UV radiation, it’s also important to be aware of other sources of UV from artificial sources.

Other Sources of UV

Wherever you work, chances are that there are some artificial sources of UV that you should be aware of. Some fluorescent, LED, and incandescent bulbs all produce small amounts of UV along with their visible light, which, at high levels of exposure, can have some adverse effects on your eyes.

Under normal use, though, the amount of UV coming from LED and fluorescent lighting is generally considered to be safe, though. Lights that you should be careful of getting too much UV radiation from include tanning booths, curing lamps, and black lights.

Artificial Sources of Blue Light 

Many people are well aware that fluorescent lighting is generally a harsh light. This is due to the fact that most fluorescent lights produce a shorter wavelength of blue light. Although this can be important for your health, it’s also important to provide your body with a balance of colder, blue light and warmer, more yellow light. This is why healthy amounts of sunlight are so good for us because they balance the spectrum of visible light.

Because sunlight contains the whole spectrum, it also contains blue light. Blue light has a shorter wavelength than most other colors and usually contains more energy. This energy, in healthy doses, helps to stimulate the human mind, assisting us in concentrating on important tasks and getting more work done.

How Blue Light Affects Your Eyes

On the visible light spectrum, blue light comes in right next to UV light. Although good for our health in moderate doses, overexposure to too much blue light can lead to some health issues.

Fluorescent and LED lights, as well as computer screens and other electronics often produce a bluish glow. This blue light, with its shorter wavelength, transmits more energy than a red or yellow light does. Because of this, blue light can heavily affect sleep cycles, stimulating our bodies to stay awake in much the same way that sunlight does.

Another issue to be aware of is what is called digital eye strain. People also call this Computer Vision Syndrome. Basically, this sort of condition stems from spending many long hours staring at computer screens, tablets, or cell phones. In addition to computers, there are also a few other technologies that can cause this kind of damage to our eyes.

What worries many experts in this day and age is the amount of blue light that our eyes are exposed to every single day. High amounts of blue light have been associated with cases of macular degeneration in the eyes, a condition that can eventually lead to blindness. That's why it's important for us as consumers to take preventative steps to reduce our exposure to blue light and promote healthy vision for years to come.

How to Protect Your Eyes from Blue Light

There are many steps you can take to prevent damage from blue light to your eyes. One easy thing to do is to use filters on any device that gives out blue light. Many devices, such as smartphones, usually come installed with some sort of filter you can turn on to reduce the amount of blue light given out by the device.

LED and fluorescent lighting, which are becoming more common today because of their energy efficiency, usually give off bluer light. The good news is that they now make both CFLs and LEDs in various color temperatures, allowing you to use them later in the day when your eyes and body will benefit from a warmer, less energetic light.

Another step you can take is to invest in computer glasses. Essentially, computer glasses come equipped with yellow tinted lenses that help to reduce the amount of blue light for your eyes take in.

Of course, the best thing you can do is to reduce your screen time. What this means is cutting down on the amount of time that you spend staring at screens that give out blue light. In today’s modern world, though, this can be difficult. Many of our jobs and daily tasks now require us to look at screens for hours a day. For some of us, we might be looking at a screen giving out blue light for over 10 hours a day.

Making your time looking at screens more efficient is the best way to cut down on your time with screens in general. If you must look at a screen, though, using a filter or computer glasses, especially later at night when your body is winding down, will help cut down on the strain to your eyes and also help your body relax. That way, when it’s time to wind down and go to sleep, your eyes and brain haven’t been stimulated by too much blue light.

The Right Light for Your Eyes

Again, good lighting design and proper planning will help to make sure that your eyes get the light they need. Using a combination of the light spectrum in your work space, home, and bedroom will allow you to maximize the health benefits your body gets from each kind of light. At the same time, getting healthy amounts of sun exposure will go a long way in protecting your eyes from damage.

Investing in high-quality lighting in the right places will make a huge difference. If you have any questions about our lighting catalog or about which product is right for you, our team of lighting experts is standing by to help you. Call 1-800-983-1315 anytime Monday through Friday, from 6 am to 6 pm Mountain Standard Time (MST), for help with your purchase. We can’t wait to hear from you!