How Can Natural Light Help Protect Your Sight?

By Jeff Brain | June 01, 2017

For a long time we have understood the intrinsic connection between sunlight and human health. One element of this that is often ignored however, is the effect of light on our visual health. Because our eyes rely on light, the kind of light we give them can drastically affect their function. Below are a few ways that natural light helps to protect your sight.

Provides Higher Quality Light

Two elements which are extremely when it comes to light quality are the spectrum of light, and its directionality. Highly directed light can create glare and light pooling, which causes the eyes to struggle as they adjust between light and dark areas of a room. Sunlight is naturally more diffuse than artificial light because it is diffused as it passes through the atmosphere to reach us. The spectrum of light is also extremely important. Studies have shown that narrow spectrum lights such as CFLs only allow the human eye to detect eight shades of each color. Under natural light, this number jumps to 50,000 shades overall.

Minimizes Repetitive Eye Strain

Another way in which natural light promotes visual health is by eliminating the intermittent flickering common with LED and CFL lamps. While this flickering is often near imperceptible to the naked eye, our eyes still attempt to adjust to these minor changes, which can create repetitive eye strain. This in turn contributes to stress induced migraines and the degradation of vision over time. Utilizing sunlight instead will ensure a steady source of light, allowing occupants’ eyes to relax.

Avoids Contribution to Myopia

Across the world, myopia (or short-sightedness) is on the rise. In some education intensive nations, such as China, cases have risen by 60% in middle school aged children since the 1970s. While it is not as extreme in many western nations, we are still experiencing a sharp increase. Doctors say that it is artificial lighting which is to blame. As well as the issues listed above, these lights are often far dimmer that their natural equivalent. This dim light can place additional strain on the human eye, and particularly in younger subjects contribute to macular degeneration.

To learn more about the other benefits investing in natural light can provide, download our free eBook The Power of Daylighting Systems in Building Design.

(Photo: Lunna, CC.)
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