LED Light: Dangers and 3 Fixes for Macular Degeneration

LED Light: Dangers and 3 Fixes for Macular Degeneration

Recent studies indicate that LED light exposure may be dangerous to your vision and possibly lead to optical disease such as macular degeneration. However, there is no need to panic just yet because these LED light dangers and 3 fixes for macular degeneration offer you the opportunity to use this knowledge and technology in a safer, more responsible way. 

What Is It?

The light emitting diode (LED) is one of the digital world’s most revered technical improvements. It has been used for over twenty years but, in the last ten, has been able to be implemented into standard bulb replacement. 

An LED releases light through electron and photon manipulation creating what is known as electroluminescence. It uses less energy and lasts much longer than an incandescent (standard) light bulb. There is also LCD (liquid crystal display) which sometimes works in sync with LEDs. 

Overall it is the manipulation of light through a series of small, energy-efficient “specialty bulbs” that work in conjunction to create strong, effective, illumination more efficient than past, standard designs. 

Either way, these light technologies make watching television, computer screens, and handheld devices as clear and lifelike as possible. However, like any technology, it isn’t until it is used by many people over several years that reports emerge regarding possible health risks.

Phototoxic Effects

In the past, lightbulbs were lightbulbs. It didn’t matter whether they were an inefficient, cost-consuming, environmentally unfriendly design, it was just a lightbulb. People never thought that lightbulbs would end up in computers and hand held devices they would rely on everyday. They also didn’t realize that, over time, something coined as “phototoxic effects” would be a concern. This is the result of light-induced retinal injury due to daily exposure to blue light. Blue light (LED’s white light has high concentrations of blue) illuminates all screens almost invisibly, permeating the top layers of the eye and damaging the internal retina. 

This brings us to our current technological challenge of dealing with vision exposed daily to these devices and, after roughly twenty years, how the results are just beginning to emerge. According to the 2017 study ‘Effects of white light‐emitting diode (LED) exposure on retinal pigment epithelium in vivo [living organism]’ by French researchers published in the ‘Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine’ it was concluded that,

“We found important structural alterations and damages leading to the disruption of the outer BRB [blood–retinal barrier] after LED light exposure. At the molecular level, analyses revealed an increase of oxidative stress followed by cell death by necrosis, a rare event in this type of tissue…We conclude that white LEDs induced strong damages in rat RPE [retinal pigment epithelium] characterized by the breakdown of the BRB and the induction of necrotic cell death.”

Another study from 2017 by Taiwanese researchers published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology (IJO) titled ‘Light-emitting-diode induced retinal damage and its wavelength dependency in vivo’ concluded that,

“The continual development of blue light-based electrical panels and much brighter lighting environments pose concerns for retinal safety…The study results indicate that LED blue-light exposure poses a great risk of retinal injury in awake, task-oriented rod-dominant animals. The wavelength-dependent effect should be considered carefully when switching to LED lighting applications.”

These studies are a small example of the many studies being conducted regarding changes in light technology and how it affects the human eye. As you navigate your daily screen usage, take into account these danger warnings and take some of the following steps to protect your vision from developing diseases such as macular degeneration. 

Protective Fixes 

With LED light and other blue light sources threatening your vision, implementing some protective fixes can make a difference. Another study published in IJO in 2018 confirmed the importance of protection vision from blue light, 

“In summary, a certain extent blue light can promote human eye refractive development and regulate circadian rhythm, but harmful blue light-induced effects on human eyes should not be ignored, blue light can also produce different degree of damage to corneal, crystal lens and retina. Therefore, it is necessary to take appropriate protective measures when using blue light-related products, especially at night.”

These tips on easy ways you can make adjustments to your daily routine are essential for your future vision.

Blue Light Glasses

The optical industry is the first to see these studies, so blue light protective glasses or coatings are available. These glasses can be worn when spending hours in front of a computer screen as well as television or even device screen. 

According to the Vision and Sensory Integration Institute, 

“Look for ones that absorb up between 90 to 99 percent of blue light. These amber colored or orange-lensed glasses start at around 10 dollars, so there’s a pair for any budget. Regular use is claimed to reduce your risk of cataracts and other macular degeneration conditions.”

Lower LED

Turning your device screen on amber or night mode reduces blue light exposure. This is especially important at night when your retina and circadian rhythm (this produces natural melatonin to induce sleep) are most vulnerable. 

The Bright Focus Foundation commented,

“Computer and phone screens can be adjusted to diminish light intensity and the ratio of blue light to other colors. This can be done by changing the factory-installed color settings, or by downloading free software for the computer called “f.lux.” This software will allow you to increase reds and greens while reducing blues. On the iPhone, if you “swipe up” from the bottom, you will see an icon with a sun on it. You can use this to diminish the screen light intensity. Also, if you press this icon and hold it for a few seconds, you get an option to turn on the “night shift” setting, which reduces blue light. I recommend using this setting all the time (not just during a night shift!).”

Stay Out of the Dark

Working on your screen in the dark can increase eye strain and blue light exposure. Therefore, make sure you have some good light all around for healthy optical adjustment. Darkness essentially makes your eyes a major target for blue light damage to the macular. When this area of the eyes becomes exposed, vulnerability for the development of macular degeneration could be more prevalent. 

As reported by Forbes magazine, 

“…new research from the University of Toledo demonstrates that when blue light hits a molecule called retinal, it triggers a cascade of chemical reactions that could be toxic to cells in the retina of the eye…The researchers suggest that progressive destruction of light-detecting cells in the eyes due to prolonged exposure to blue light could therefore contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness.”

Hopefully, these LED light dangers and 3 fixes for macular degeneration will help you change some habits to maintain healthy vision. You may want to start now because it looks like we’ll be looking at some sort of blue light produced screen, virtual reality, or hologram for years to come.