Is Artificial Lighting Hurting Your Eyes?

By Jeff Brain | May 04, 2017

Since Thomas Edison first invented the lightbulb, we have been reliant on them to illuminate buildings at night. Despite their convenience, however, we are beginning to discover that using it throughout the day might actually be damaging to our health. While some of the health effects are commonly discussed, one area that is largely ignored is visual health. Below are a few important ways that artificial lighting might actually be harming your vision.

Connection with Myopia

Myopia, more commonly called short sightedness, has been rapidly increasing in frequency since the 1970s. This is most easily observable in countries like China, where the education system is more intensive. In recent years the number of cases has increased from 20-30% to 80% of students middle school age or older. While these numbers are lower in the U.S. or Europe, they are on the rise. According to doctors , it may be the amount of time we spend under artificial lights that is to blame. While these lights may appear bright, they are far dimmer than sunlight, forcing our eyes to strain to make out fine details. Over the course of several years, this can contributing to the development of myopia, particularly in children

Repetitive Eye Strain

Another common issue which occurs with most widely used forms of artificial lighting, including compact fluorescent, incandescent, and HID lamps, as well as some LEDs, is that they produce light which intermittently flickers. This flickering can range from clearly visible to nearly imperceptible, but either way, has has a direct effect on our vision. Because our pupils dilate in reaction to a shift in light, these rapid changes will force the eye to rapidly adjust creating repetitive eye strain and contribute to migraine headaches.

How to Solve this Issue

The best method of protecting your visual health is substituting natural lighting for your pre-existing artificial lighting wherever possible. Daylighting provides consistent, diffuse sunlight which is far better at protecting visual health. Because our eyes are naturally attuned to seeing the world in daylight, the effect it has on our health, both visually and holistically is clearly observable, allowing building occupants to work more efficiently with greater comfort and ease.

For more information on the advantages of natural light over artificial lighting, download our eBook A Comprehensive Guide to Sustainable Lighting.
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