Eco-friendly LED light bulbs Migraine on the increase

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By 2017-08-24

By Dimitri Fernando

The world started using Energy Saving Low energy light-emitting diode (LED) lights to conserve energy. But the LED lights flicker constantly and as a result, they might be causing more harm than good. Their constant flickering may give people a headache, warned a prominent health expert. Prof. Arnold Wilkins, Professor of Psychology at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom stated that within 20 minutes of switching them on LED bulbs are capable of inducing feelings of dizziness and pain.

Traditional light bulbs have less flickering and fluctuations than LED light bulbs, the professor also stressed. Fluorescent lights like those found in offices dim by about 35 per cent with every flicker.

Flickering LED lights are found to dim by up to 100 per cent in contrast to CFL lights. What this means is that LED light bulbs effectively switch on and off hundreds of times every second.


Prof. Wilkins stated that the flickering may disrupt the movement control of the eyes and force the brain to work harder and as a result this mechanism could trigger the onset of headaches. Visual conditions such as double or multiple visions and similar visual problems would be caused or increased by the constant flickering of the lights. Also when using a computer, or reading under an LED light especially in a darkened room, the risk of suffering a headache is more pronounced when the eyes are positioned carefully to scan the pages or be constantly focused on a screen.

The professor said being exposed to flickering LED lights may double the risk of experiencing headaches.

A study from 1989 conducted by Pro. Wilkins found fluorescent lighting which flickered 100 times a second doubled the chances of office workers experiencing headaches. LED light bulbs can flash 400 times a second – four times as often.

After about 20 minutes, the flickering of even CFL lights can make people feel dizzy and unwell and can produce disturbing anomalies of perception. The lamp in front of you may look like two or three lamps because of this visual effect when a bulb flickers and causes you to move your eyes rapidly," he continued "People do not like the flicker."

LED lights

No similar study has yet been performed for LED lights. But due to the fact that LED flickering is fluctuating by 100 per cent and thereby three times more pronounced, rather than the roughly 35 per cent of fluorescent lamps, the likelihood of headaches, eye problems, and even brain fatigue being caused by LEDs is much greater.

"At best, it's likely to put some people off using LED bulbs because of the annoying, distracting effect of the flickering, which we know can be detected during saccades," Prof. Wilkins said.

Under EU law Britain is set to ban halogen light bulbs completely next September. They are currently being phased out, with major retailer IKEA already only offering LED bulbs for sale.

The group issued similar warnings many years ago.

For many years charities and health experts have cited and lobbied against the potential negative implications of using low-energy bulbs.

Traditional light bulbs

One time, campaigners have called on the federal government (of the US) to permit people with certain disabilities to continue using traditional light bulbs instead of the newer, low-energy LED bulbs. This was due to the fact that epileptic patients may be exposed to increased risk of dizziness, loss of focus, and discomfort, not to mention being the trigger for a full blown seizure.

Patients with lupus were also affected by the low energy lighting. Likewise, a growing concern about the association of low-energy lighting to severe headache was noted by experts from the Migraine Action Association.

"A migraine attack or epileptic seizure can be triggered by fluorescent lights, video screens, stroboscopic effects, and flashing lights for some people. Since an epileptic seizure can be mild to severe to life threatening, it makes one's choice of lighting possibly a matter of life or death. Therefore these factors should be taken into consideration.

Low energy light bulbs

Paul Jansen of the Migraine Action Association stated "Most of the currently available low energy light bulbs are based on fluorescent light technology. We hope that the government will allow regular light bulbs to be [still] available to those who need them."

One option for day time lighting would be the use of fibre optic lighting which captures natural light from an external source, and sends it throughout the building. This would be particularly useful in corporate environments where the entire environment is controlled, and usually features CFL or LED lighting.

The other option is to explore other ways of making natural light available like skylights and light tubes.

Dr. Alexander Wunsch, a world class expert on photobiology, shares the hidden dangers of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting that most people are completely unaware of.

Major transition

There's been a major transition to using LED as a primary indoor light source largely as a result of energy efficiency. In this regard, it worked like a charm by reducing energy requirements by as much as 95 per cent compared to incandescent thermal analog sources of lighting.

Incandescent light bulbs generate heat, which is infrared radiation. He states that this is actually beneficial to your health, and hence worth the extra cost.

We don't fully appreciate some major downsides to LEDs that we may not be aware of. On a daily basis LED lighting may actually be one of the most important, non-native EMF radiation exposures you're exposed to.

There can be very serious long-term ramifications if you chose to ignore the new insights. It could lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and elsewhere.

We will explore these in greater detail soon, as there are many factors which are unknown to most, but in fact play a critical part in our visual and mental health.

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