It’s five in the afternoon, just another day at the office. You shut down your computer and pack your things up. As you approach the door, you look at the lights for a few moments, and feel your eyelids drooping heavily over your tired eyes from your nine-hour (or more) stay in the workplace. After clicking the switch, you feel a slight sense of comfort in your eyes in turning the lights off.
If you are feeling this every day, you might be suffering from eye strain, and it’s not only you! Around the world, millions of companies are probably making the mistake of using bright daylight luminaires in their offices. In offices daylight fluorescent and LED lights are used, employees often experience eye strain from being under harsh lighting conditions for extended periods of time. These employees report symptoms such as sore, watery or dry eyes, double vision, and increased sensitivity to light.
Who is to blame?
It is less of a question of who, but what. It’s 2018, and many companies have already shifted from fluorescent to LED lights. In offices, daylight LEDs are often used and unfortunately, lighting conditions are brighter than what is required in illumination. The effects of lighting on our health is often undervalued, as in the case of many offices. Too dim, you won’t see clearly. Too bright, your eyes will be straining in no time. And while glare is a common complaint in poorly designed lighting conditions, there is one more culprit.
With the dawn of fluorescent and LED lights, choosing the desired color temperature for lighting fixtures in homes and offices have never been easier. A lighting fixture’s correlated color temperature (CCT) can be often classified into one of three main categories – warm white (3000 K),cool white (4000 K), and daylight (6500 K). While this flexibility has given designers more options, making the right choice for interior spaces is a different story altogether.
In offices, daylight LEDs and fluorescent lights are often used to maximize employee productivity. Lights at this color temperature emit the highest amount of blue light, which give daylight LEDs their characteristic bluish hue. Blue light, in turn, as it best mimics sunlight at noontime, give us the greatest boost in wakefulness and alertness, thus reaping the highest benefit for companies as employees get to do more with this extra boost. Or do they?
While blue light does give our bodies some extra drive, it doesn’t do much good for our eyes. Among all the wavelengths of light, blue contains the highest levels of energy. The lens and the cornea of our eyes are unable to block or reflect blue light that enters the eye, which goes deep into the retina. Optical chemistry researchers from the University of Toledo found significant evidence that cumulative blue light exposure contributes to gradual macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in the US. “It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina. Our experiments explain how this happens, and we hope this leads to therapies that slow macular degeneration.”, Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said.
Minimizing blue light exposure in the office
For a 21st century office, being exposed to computers is inevitable, thus trying to avoiding computers altogether is impossible, but there are other ways to minimize your blue light exposure and reduce your risk for blindness. Here are three recommendations to reduce your blue light exposure:
1. Use blue light filter
Modern digital devices, including smartphones, tablets,laptops, and computers, now contain a feature called blue light filter, where the device alters the color palette of its display to minimize its blue light emission. Nowadays, blue light filter is a necessity for people who want to seriously care for their eyesight.
2. Adjust lighting
In designing an interior space, lights must be properly designed by a professional to get the optimal lighting conditions. When lights are well-designed, not only do you minimize blue light exposure, you also tend to experience less glare. Energy is also efficiently distributed since the right number and right positioning of the lighting fixtures is a major component of a good lighting design.
3. Use cool white (4000K) lights
The choice of the correct color temperature for the lighting fixtures is also crucial in minimizing blue light exposure. As 6500K (daylight) lights emit more blue light than lights at different color temperatures, shifting to 4000K (cool white) luminaires helps reduce blue light exposure while also maintaining the brightness and sharpness in the interior space. On top of the blue light protection that cool white luminaires offer, glare is also minimized, avoiding eye strain and reducing the risk for macular degeneration.
AGI is a lighting consultancy firm, offering services in lighting design, calculations, and supply as the sole official distributor of OSRAM luminaires in the Philippines. Contact us for your inquiries.