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Is Fluorescent Light Bad For You? Here's What You Should Know

Can fluorescent lights affect your health? A 2009 study done by Canada's Trent University found that UV radiation from fluorescent lights may cause eye strain, migraines and dizziness in people. The effects are lessened by placing the fluorescent lights at least 1 to 2 ft away.

Fluorescent lights, especially CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) are commonly seen in offices, and homes. CFLs give out an efficient source of energy, according to the Thurston County, Washington Department of Public Health and Social Services. These fluorescent light bulb lasts up to ten times longer than other types of lighting and uses just one-fourth of the energy burned by incandescent bulbs.

However, this form of lighting can lead to both positive and negative health effects. And many people find this harsh light distracting because they are sensitive to this kind of light and working under the light for long hours might actually put stress on their bodies and lead to health problems like sleep-pattern disruption, cancer, and migraine headaches.

The study 'Potential Biological and Ecological Effects of Flickering Artificial Light' have explored the effects of fluorescent light sensitivity in the journal PLOS ONE.

What Causes Fluorescent Light Sensitivity?

Light sensitivity is termed as the intolerance to light which causes discomfort, along with the need to close or squint your eyes. Light sensitivity can also bring headaches because of their brightness.


Symptoms Of Fluorescent Light Sensitivity

Physical and emotional symptoms develop as a result of your sensitivity to fluorescent light. The following symptoms may develop after a few minutes of exposure or there may be a delay in the onset of these symptoms.

1. Eye strain
2. Intolerance of fluorescents
3. Eye inflammation or pain
4. Difficulty in reading and focusing
5. Blurred or impaired vision
6. Headache or migraine attacks
7. Light-headedness
8. Dizziness
9. Nausea
10. Shortness of breath
11. Lethargy
12. Anxiety
13. Feelings of depression
14. Disrupted sleep

Health Effects Of Fluorescent Lights


1. Eye problems

Fluorescent lights cause eye problems and the symptoms are eye strain, inflammation and excessive squinting. Some medical professionals have also theorized that retinal damage, myopia or astigmatism can also be due to the brightness of fluorescent lights. If a person has an eye disorder, fluorescent lights arouse the central nervous system and this can lead to visual stress and eye discomfort.


2. Headaches and migraine

Do fluorescent lights give you headaches? The answer is yes, and it's even more likely to occur if you already have a headache disorder such as a migraine or a cluster headache. Most people who suffer from migraine attacks are triggered by fluorescents. Workers in offices who work under the CFLs are twice more likely to get headaches compared to natural lighting environments.


3. Disrupts sleep pattern

The spectrum frequencies of light from the CFLs hit the retina and pass through the circadian pathways, instead of the visual cortex. This disrupts the physiological processes in the brain and restricts the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep and wakefulness in the body. The blue light emitted from a CFL disrupts the body's circadian rhythm.

Some properties of the fluorescent lights can affect an individual's tolerance levels which include:

  • High amount of blue light emitted from CFL is known to increase eye strain, headaches and migraines.
  • Low-frequency flicker is absorbed easily by the brain even though it isn't visible to the naked eye.
  • Overall brightness can trigger light-sensitive conditions.

Tips For Managing Fluorescent Light Sensitivity

1. Treat your pre-existing condition. For example, if you are dealing with conditions like migraines or eye disorders.

2. Talk to your employer about how the light affects your health and how it may affect your work productivity as well.

3. To minimize the effects of CFLs, use tinted glasses.

4. Expose to natural light as much as possible which is a much better alternative to fluorescent lighting. You could also choose warm-coloured interior lighting.

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Story first published: Friday, October 12, 2018, 16:10 [IST]
Read more about: health