French health watchdog warns on blue from LEDs

BLUE LIGHT in LEDs can damage eyes and disrupt our sleep-wake cycle, France's health watchdog has declared.

Research by the government-funded body confirms earlier fears that ‘exposure to an intense and powerful light is 'photo-toxic' and can lead to irreversible loss of retinal cells and diminished sharpness of vision,’ the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) warned in a statement.

The agency recommended in a 400-page report that the maximum limit for acute exposure be revised, even if such levels are rarely met in home or the workplace.

The report distinguished between acute exposure of high-intensity LED light, and what it terms ‘chronic exposure’ to lower intensity sources.

While less dangerous, even chronic exposure can ‘accelerate the ageing of retinal tissue, contributing to a decline in visual acuity and certain degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration,’ the agency said.

The report from the hawkish health watchdog has been picked up gleefully be the UK press with the Daily Mail warning that ‘LED lights in your house can cause irreversible damage to the eyes and lead to a vision-robbing condition’.

The French report follows a previous health scare in 2013 when researchers at a Madrid university which found that LEDs can be damaging to retinas.

Dr. Celia Sanchez Ramos of Complutense University, who has been investigating the so-called ‘blue light hazard’, predicted ‘an epidemic’ of retina problems due to increased exposure to LED lighting.


  • Learn more about safety and standards at LuxLive 2019 exhibition, taking place on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019 at London ExCeL. Entry is free. See the full programme and register for a place HERE.

Comments 1

Let me complete this brilliant article: the IEC TR 62778 (technical report) is becoming a standard in its own right: IEC 62778. And in this standard the group RG0 is not described nor mentioned. This means that for lighting products there will soon be only 3 groups left: RG1, RG2 or RG3. Calls for tenders with RG0 should therefore no longer exist (remember that incandescent and halogen sources are generally RG1, because the true radiance of the filament normally exceeds the exposure limits RG0). Concerning circadian rhythms, Anses alerts on the use of screens (TVs, tablets, smartphones, computers) in the evening, but in general using warm white light sources (for lighting and screens) greatly reduces the effects since there is much less blue light. It should be noted that "Human Centric Lighting", "biodynamic lighting", "circadian lighting", etc., which can adjust the luminous flux and colour temperature, are an interesting answers to the problem of disrupting circadian rhythms. Other alerts have been issued on the impact on biodiversity, or on car headlights and lighting objects (flashlights, nightlights), but we are far from the world of lighting! Sébastien CTO @SyndEclairage

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