Do you work in an office? Shop in retail stores? Eat in a cafeteria? Look above you and there’s a good chance you’ll see fluorescent lights. You may even use fluorescent bulbs at home.

Fluorescent lights illuminate evenly while using around 75% less energy and emitting significantly less heat than an incandescent bulb. This makes them an environmentally friendly option in many settings.

However, fluorescent lights can take their toll on your eyes and vision if you are exposed to them constantly.

Do Fluorescent Lights Damage Your Eyes?

Fluorescent lights give off light from a large glowing surface while being cheaper than incandescent lights such as the conventional lightbulb with a filament. What’s more, fluorescent lights have a lifespan that is 8 to 15 times longer.

No surprise then that fluorescent lights are often the number one choice in commercial and residential settings. The global fluorescent lighting market is expected to grow to USD 14.66 billion by 2029, up from 6.4 billion in 2021.

But there is a catch. Fluorescent lights generate light from the collision of electrons and atoms, often mercury, in a hot gas. This creates more UV emissions than other types of lightning. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can emit ten times more UVB radiation than a tungsten lamp.

four fluorescent UV lamps arranged horizontally in a blue light glow

If you’ve been following our blog, you know already that UV radiation can create free radicals that damage eye structures. UV radiation can contribute to the development of many eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and dry eye disease.

Fluorescent light can also be more intense than other forms of light. It’s more difficult to control than other methods of illumination, calling for a careful arrangement of the lights.

If you regularly spend time around fluorescent lights, you may have already experienced fluorescent eye strain.

Symptoms of fluorescent eye strain can include:

  • Sore, burning eyes
  • Blurry vision (including blurry vision in one eye if one eye is more exposed than the other, as it can happen with side lights)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Dry eyes

One study investigated the link between eye diseases and the increased use of fluorescent lightning as a climate change mitigation strategy. It suggests that fluorescent lightning may cause an additional 3,000 cases of cataracts and increase UV-related eye diseases by up to 12% annually in Australia alone.

At this point in time, UV exposure from fluorescent lights is not controlled in most parts of the world. In many offices and shops, for example, the positioning of fluorescent lights is informed only by design and practical considerations, with little to no attention given to eye care.

How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy in a Fluorescent World

You may not have control over most of the fluorescent light sources you are exposed to on a normal day. But you can choose to live a healthy lifestyle that supports eye health.

Choose a Safe Color Temperature

Some research suggests that the safe range of light to avoid damaging UV radiation from fluorescent lights is a color temperature between 2000-3500 degrees Kelvin (K) and with a wavelength greater than 500 nanometers (nm).

This means opting for a warmer color temperature – the cooler the temperature, the higher the number. For example, cool white lights are in the 4000-5000K range while daylight white lights are over 5000K.

warm light bulb that is easier on the eyes than a cold light

If you are installing a fluorescent lighting system at home or in another setting, you may want to factor this in.

You may also want to bring this issue to attention in the workplace. Many people are simply not aware of the effects of fluorescent lights on the eyes.

Adjust Your Position

Change your position at the desk or move to another cubicle to reduce the amount of fluorescent light you are exposed to. Avoid having a fluorescent light source directly in front or above you.

man in white shirt working at a desk with a laptop in front of him and windows to his side

Sit in a way that you don’t directly expose your eyes to too much light. This may require that you rearrange your desk and change the position of your computer. Overexposure to overhead fluorescent light can cause eye pain and blurry vision.

Wear Eyeglasses with a Fluorescent Light Filter

Blue light eyeglasses can help filter out some of the fluorescent light that’s bothering you. A blue light filter is also available for some prescription glasses.

If you’re very sensitive to fluorescent light, you may also find on the market specialized glasses designed to provide optimal protection from fluorescent lights. Regardless of the product you choose, test it out first if possible.

Good to know: Thinking about wearing sunglasses indoors to block light that bothers you? Avoid this as it causes your eyes to adapt to low light conditions. This natural adaptation means that when you take the sunglasses off, you’ll experience more discomfort in normal lighting conditions.

Wear a Cap

If fluorescent lights give you a headache or make you feel uncomfortable, putting on a cap can provide at least temporary relief from an overhead light.

In a formal setting like a classroom, you may want to go to your teachers before class and explain why you’re wearing a cap.

Take Regular Breaks

Help your eyes relax by taking a break every 20 minutes. You can’t go wrong with the 20-20-20 rule. Refocus your eyes on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds before returning to work. Simply closing your eyes for at least 20 seconds also helps.

An added benefit of taking regular breaks is that they can reduce stress levels, improve recall, and increase productivity.

Good to know: Scrolling on your phone doesn’t count as a break as it taxes your prefrontal cortex and may cause negative emotions.

Keep Your Eyes Healthy with a Natural Eye Health Supplement

Another way to protect your eyes against fluorescent lights is from the inside out. SightC is a superfood blend that brings together goji berries, turmeric, and other ingredients long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to sustain vision health.

Supported by modern clinical research, SightC provides your eyes with a healthy dose of antioxidants and other essential nutrients that shield your eyes against the effects of UV radiation and promote the function of the tear glands.

Available in easy-to-take, zero-calorie, vegan-friendly capsules, SightC is a simple way to support better eyesight.

Learn more about SightC and how it can keep your eyes healthy.

SightC natural eye health supplement with goji berry, turmeric, and other superfoods that protect they eyes against UV radiation

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