Energy-saving fluorescent lights linked to increasing eye diseases

Washington: Energy-saving fluorescent lights can harm eyes, say scientists. A new research, led by the Australian National University, has warned that the global trend towards using fluorescent globes instead of incandescent ones as a strategy to beat climate change could be increasing eye disease.

The research, published in the 'American Journal of Public Health', has found that fluorescent lighting may cause a 12 per cent rise in UV-related eye diseases like cataracts and pterygia.

Lead author Dr Helen Walls said moves to sustainability and a low-carbon economy had involved a shift toward more energy-efficient lighting. "Many people worldwide are exposed to artificial light sources at home and at work which until recently, mainly entailed incandescent lighting," she said.

Walls added: "The shift to fluorescent lighting means those people are now being exposed to ultraviolet radiation, which is compounded by increasing urbanisation and workers spending more of their work time in buildings instead of fields or other outside locations.

 Energy-saving fluorescent lights linked to increasing eye diseases

Energy-saving fluorescent lights can harm eyes, say scientists. Reuters.

"The safe range of light to avoid exposing the eye to potentially damaging ultraviolet radiation is 2,000 to 3,500K and greater than 500 nanometres. Some fluorescent lights fall outside this safe range."

Ultra-violet radiation has been considered a cause of cataracts and pterygia because the photoreceptors in the retina are susceptible to damage by light, particularly UV light, which can lead to cell death and disease. Cumulative dose is also an important component of UV exposure.

Dr Walls said greater control of UV exposure from fluorescent lights was required.

"The replacement of incandescent lamps with fluorescent lighting will lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gases, however, such shifts may increase the population burden of eye disease.

"The evidence suggests that the least hazardous approach to lighting is to use warm-white tubes or incandescent bulbs of lower colour temperature and longer wave length light rather than fluorescent lamps," she said.


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Updated Date: Oct 22, 2011 15:10:47 IST