Can Low-Energy Bulbs Hurt Your Eyes?

Health Writer
Medically Reviewed

Q. My husband and I have heard that light coming from low-energy bulbs as well as our laptops and tablets can damage our eyes. Is that true?

A. Some studies have raised concerns about how much exposure to blue light we get from things like smartphones and energy-efficient bulbs.

Sunlight and artificial light from incandescent bulbs do not expose us to an excessive amount of blue light. But light from electronic devices as well as the newer light bulbs has a different spectrum, with a higher level of blue light that reaches our eyes.

A study conducted in England and published in the journal Eye in 2016 measured how much blue light people are actually exposed to on a day-to-day basis.

The researchers compared that to limits set in guidelines on exposure to blue light, below which harm is unlikely. They also compared it to the amount of exposure people get naturally from sunlight.

The results showed that the likely exposure from artificial sources like cell phones and the newer bulbs is less than what’s received naturally from the sun.

Also, normal exposure from artificial sources was less than 10 to 20 percent of the exposure deemed safe by the guideline limits. This means the level of artificial light that people are worried about is not a major concern.