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If certain light sources make your eyes uncomfortable - you're not alone (and like many of our customers!) 

Today, we're talking about light sensitivity and answering the question: what are the best light bulbs for sensitive eyes?  

It doesn't matter whether your light sensitivity is due to an underlying condition or you simply find today's lighting harsh and problematic - it's a real thing and the problem has everything to do with the light source. 

You've probably realized how difficult it's become to find light bulbs that don't cause symptoms for sensitive eyes: unfortunately many conventional light bulbs on the market today can cause eye strain, discomfort, and other unwanted symptoms, even after short periods of use.

So, let's explore the best lighting options for your sensitive eyes!

If you're the type to skip to the end, you'll see that we recommend using only either warm white LED, or, preferably, incandescent light bulbs, if light sensitivity is a problem.

What causes light sensitivity? Which light bulbs cause light sensitivity?

While any light source can trigger your symptoms, most people are triggered by some qualities of light inherent to lower-quality or generic LED and fluorescent light bulbs. 

First, let's talk about the two usual culprits behind most light sensitivity.

Harsh "on/off" light flicker

Flicker is a by-product of being plugged into alternating current (AC) electricity; while all light bulbs flicker to some degree - not all flicker is the same. 

The flicker from LED is more of a strobing "on/off" effect, while the flicker from incandescent or halogen light bulbs is more of a gentle glow -- like a candle's flicker, due to the thermal inertia from the bulb's filament.

Just as it's far more pleasant to stare at a candle flame, the same goes for the glowing flicker from incandescent light bulbs.

Blue light wavelengths / glare + brightness

The brightness and color of light trigger most symptoms of light sensitivity. More specifically, we're talking about the high energy blue-violet wavelengths of the visible light spectrum. 

While not all blue light is not bad (but a biologically necessary part of visible light that keeps our energy up and circadian rhythm synced), it's the shorter wavelengths of this so-called "high energy blue visible light" that is problematic for our eyes. 

The light output of LED light bulbs contains an unnatural spike of those high energy blue light wavelengths in isolation.  

Now for glare and brightness, much of this has to do with the "noise" of artificial lighting and the overall unnatural nature of LED lighting. If you find that most LED is unnervingly bright and causes a "halo" effect (unfocus your eyes a bit while looking at the light and you see a halo of light), that's because LED outputs a light more akin a laser beam rather than a source of light. 

What are the best light bulbs for sensitive eyes?

If all the above are usual determinants of your symptoms, choosing light sources without harsh flicker, blue light wavelengths, or extreme "noisy" brightness makes sense! 

As we'll see shortly, incandescent light bulbs are the best light bulbs for sensitive eyes. 

And - as we've written extensively about - incandescent bulbs are simple, analog light sources similar in form to the sun and are unarguably the healthiest type of light bulb available. We like to think that our body and eyes would have no reason to respond negatively to the kind of light provided by nature! 

Not all incandescent or halogen light bulbs are made equal, however - if you or someone you love genuinely suffers from their sensitivity (or if the sensitivity includes eye strain primarily), trying a filtered version of incandescent light, like the Chromalux® light bulb, can make a big difference! 

To summarize: choose any light bulb that is: 

Warmer in color temperature 

This means a light bulb containing less blue light and more red light. That could mean either incandescent or warm white color temperature LED bulbs. 

Does not flicker on/off or has low flicker

As mentioned before, it's much more pleasant to the eyes and body to watch a candle flicker versus a static, rapidly flickering on/off signal. Even if you can't see the flicker, it's there, and your body feels it.  

Is either dimmable or lower in wattage

A light that's too bright is unnerving. Especially when it's so-called "junk light". We recommend sticking to lower wattage/lower brightness light bulbs or using bulbs on dimmer switches so you can control the brightness yourself. 

We also recommend covering up any "uncovered" fixtures in your home, such as pendants. 

As a side note, wattage in the case of LED bulbs doesn't equate to brightness: a 12 Watt LED, for example, can still be quite bright, whereas an incandescent bulb's wattage does equate to its brightness. 

What are the symptoms of light sensitivity?

While we're not doctors, the symptoms of light sensitivity can look like many conditions. Whether migraines, headaches, dizziness, or eye pain, you'll know its light sensitivity if your symptoms are triggered after exposure to a particular light source and subside when that light turns off. 

The following are some common symptoms of light sensitivity: 

  • Headache/migraines
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Light intolerance/the desire to flee from the light source
  • Eye pain or discomfort
  • Excess squinting/blinking
  • Burning or watering of the eye

Other helpful lifestyle tips:

While changing your light is a great place to begin, we also recommend the following: 

  • Getting natural sunshine first thing every day
  • Limiting blue light and bright light usage in the evening
  • Setting your device screens to warmer color temperatures

 

Wrapping up: 

Light is a gift from nature, and we'd like to keep it as such. Choose better lighting and start unwinding a bit!

Wishing you all the best in light and health!

 

💡Thanks for reading!

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