Low energy light-emitting diode (LED) lights might may be causing more harm than good as their constant flickering may give people headaches, a prominent health expert warned. According to Professor Arnold Wilkins, professor of psychology at the University of Essex, in the United Kingdom, LED bulbs are capable of inducing feelings of dizziness and pain within mere 20 minutes of switching them on.
The professor also stressed that LED light bulbs have greater fluctuations than traditional light bulbs. He said fluorescent lights like those found in offices dim by about 35 percent with every flicker. In contrast, flickering LED lights are found to dim by up to 100 percent. This means that LED light bulbs effectively switch on and off hundreds of times every second.
According to Prof. Wilkins, this mechanism could trigger the onset of headaches as the flickering may disrupt the movement control of the eyes and force the brain to work harder. Likewise, the flickering of the lights raises the odds of suffering visual conditions such as double or multiple visions. In addition, the risk of suffering a headache is more pronounced while reading, when the eyes are positioned carefully to scan the pages. Being exposed to flickering LED lights may double the risk of experiencing headaches, the professor said.
“People do not like the flicker, it can make them feel dizzy and unwell after about 20 minutes, and can produce disturbing anomalies of perception, such as seeing multiple images of the lamp, every time you move your eyes rapidly. No similar study has yet been performed for LED lights. But because LED flickering is even more pronounced, with the light dimming by 100 percent rather than the roughly 35 percent of fluorescent lamps, there’s a chance that LEDs could be even more likely to cause headaches. 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.
Group issues similar warning many years ago
Charities and health experts have cited and lobbied against the potential negative implications of using low-energy bulbs for years. Campaigners have once called on the federal government to permit people with certain disabilities to continue using traditional light bulbs instead of the newer, low-energy varieties. These requests were raised over concerns that the eco-bulbs may raise the risk of dizziness, loss of focus, and discomfort among epileptic patients.
The low energy lighting were also said to have caused a stir among patients with lupus. Likewise, experts from the Migraine Action Association noted a growing concern about the association of low-energy lighting to severe headache. (Related: How to Avoid Health Hazards of Lighting)
“For some people a migraine attack can be triggered by fluorescent lights, video screens, stroboscopic effects, and flashing lights. 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,” said Paul Jansen of the Migraine Action Association.