Protecting Eyes from LED Blue Light

Impact from LED blue lights on the health of eyes remains a field that requires close study, but there still some measures that heavy screen users can adapt to save their eyesight, according to a recent Financial Times report.

LED technology has permeated into ordinary light bulbs, computers, tablets and smartphones.

A recent study released this month for instance showed a correlation between LED screens in ereaders and phones triggering insominia in some people.

Long term exposure to LED light has raised concern among researchers, since there is growing evidence that LEDs can cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in some people over a long period. AMD has been a leading cause of blindness in the western world.

Previous studies have associated macular degeneration with long-term exposure to bright sunshine, and found blue light in daylight as the root of the problem.

Macular degeneration is more prevalent among those that live in the northern regions of the world, said Ron Adelman, a professor of ophthalmology at Yale University School of Medicine.

As nations replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs and fluorescent bulbs, this can be an issue. In Europe all incandescent bulbs are expected to be replaced by 2016. Compact fluorescent bulbs emit around 26% blue light, but LED bulbs release at least 35%, according to Essilor, the French optical company.

An important study from Spain found LED lights could cause death of ocular tissues in Petri dishes after 12-hour exposure. LED computer, tablet or smartphone screens are probably worse on people’s eyes than LED bulbs, since people look at them for extended periods, said Celia Sánchez-Ramos, the researcher at Universidad Complutense de Madrid who led the study.

At least another decade of research is required before any conclusive correlations can be drawn between LED lights and the cause of macular degeneration, said Sánchez-Ramos.

In the meantime, there are several ways to safeguard eyesight.

Supplements containing vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin were recommended by Adelman. People taking these premixed eye vitamins were 25% less likely to develop AMD than those who did not.

We are not likely to give up LED devices anytime soon. But there are a couple of measures we can take now that might help safeguard our eyes.

Another form of protection is wearing eyeglasses with lenses, such as Essilor’s Crizal Prevencia to filter out harmful blue rays emitted by LED sources.

However, a healthy amount of blue light needs to be administered to keep the body’s circadian rhythm in check.


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