LED Lights & Migraines: Is Your Sensitivity Real? - Axon Optics

LED Lights & Migraines: Is Your Sensitivity Real?

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LED Lights & Migraines: Is Your Sensitivity Real?

As lighting technology advances, the prevalence of LED light sensitivity could be on the rise. LED stands for light-emitting diode, which is a semiconductor light source which lights up when power moves through it. As the technology has advanced and decreased in price, LED lighting is becoming more and more popular. It’s extremely efficient, doesn’t run hot, and emits a bright artificial light that many people like. But unfortunately for others, LED lights can trigger unpleasant symptoms. 

LED light sensitivity is real for growing numbers of people

With so many LED bulbs and fixtures around these days, it makes sense that LED light sensitivity would become more noticeable. In this article, we’ll discuss what LED light sensitivity is, how it feels, and why you may be sensitive to it. We’ll also offer some facts about LED lights and migraine, and how you can get relief.

What is LED Light Sensitivity?

Photophobia or light sensitivity is most often discussed in relation to fluorescent lighting or the light from digital screens. If you’re light sensitive, there’s a chance that LED lights are a problem for you, too. Sitting next to an LED lamp, your photosensitivity may kick in, causing a host of unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of LED Light Sensitivity

If you’re sensitive to LED lights, you’ll likely notice a pattern of symptoms when you’re exposed to it. These aren’t necessarily related specifically to LED lights, but they could be. Generally speaking, the signs that you’re sensitive to LEDs include the following photophobia symptoms:

  • Eye pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Excessive blinking or squinting
  • Eye inflammation
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Burning or watery eyes
  • Eye dryness
  • Seeing bright colored spots
  • Feeling that normal amounts of light are too bright

How You Might Be Exposed to LEDs

Whether you realize it or not, you probably experience LED exposure every day, at least for brief periods. You probably know whether you’re using LED bulbs at home, but there are a number of other places where LED lighting is common.

  • Interior car lights
  • Newer car headlights (a big source of nighttime glare)
  • Computer screens
  • TV screens
  • Smartphones
  • Holiday lights on Christmas trees and homes
  • LCD devices (many are actually back-lit by LED)

As the price of LED bulbs and fixtures continues to come down, we’re likely to see more of it in retail and office settings. Compact fluorescents were once thought to be the ultimate replacement for incandescent bulbs, but LEDs are becoming more and more prevalent because of their efficiency.

Why You Might Have LED Light Sensitivity

While light sensitivity might be triggered by any kind of light you can think of, LED bulbs have certain characteristics that could affect light sensitive people in adverse ways. Those characteristics include:

Brightness

If you have photophobia, you don’t tolerate bright light very well to begin with. But as the brightness of the light goes up, so do your symptoms. Part of the reason why LED lighting is so popular is because it’s a bright light that costs very little to operate. 

As opposed to an incandescent bulb, an LED bulb will put out a lot more light while consuming a lot less power. Even compared to fluorescent lighting, you can get the same brightness while spending less money on energy with LEDs. This is great for businesses, schools, and homes who are looking for more bang for their buck. But if LED exposure affects you poorly, you may end up wanting to bang your head against a wall.

Wavelength or color of light makes a difference when it comes to LED light sensitivity

Wavelength

As most people with light sensitivity can attest, certain types of light are notoriously troublesome for them. Part of the reason for this is the color or wavelength of the light. LED bulbs emit blue light, which is known to trigger symptoms. In fact, when FL-41 lenses were developed, they were created to block the blue wavelengths emitted by fluorescent lighting in particular. Since then, Axon Optics has taken these lenses a bit further and refined them into light sensitivity glasses.

LED light bulbs are available in different color temperatures or hues. You might see them labeled as warm, neutral, or white (also called daylight). A lot of people like the perceived brightness of the daylight bulbs. However, the cooler white light emits more of the blue or blue-green spectrum, which is more likely to affect light sensitive people.

Flickering

Much like fluorescent lights, LED lights don’t provide smooth, continuous light. On the contrary, they put out a high-frequency flicker which is imperceptible to the eye, but can still impact those with photophobia. Flickering is known for triggering light sensitivity symptoms, including migraine.

LED Light Sensitivity and Migraine

Research into how LED light affects the brain is ongoing, and more studies are needed. However, published reports have indicated that overexposure to the blue light emitted specifically by LED bulbs can be harmful to your eyes and disrupt your sleep. And of course, this information backs up other studies that have shown blue light wavelengths can contribute to headaches, migraine, visual fatigue and more.

As we discussed earlier, the flickering of many LED lights can result in adverse effects like headaches and visual problems. These may include trouble focusing, eye strain, and you guessed it — bright light sensitivity. See the above list of common sources for LED light — some of which may be unexpected. And again, it’s well documented that blue light (which is emitted by LED bulbs) is a common migraine trigger for light sensitive individuals. 

Relief Tips for LED Sensitive People

There is no cure for photophobia. Fortunately, by taking some practical steps to mitigate your exposure, you can significantly reduce your symptoms. Here are a few ideas, including some home remedies for photophobia.

Axon Optics Eyewear can help with LED light sensitivity

Wear Axon Optics Eyewear

Our glasses are specifically made to block more of the harmful light spectrum while allowing more good light in. They’re not just FL-41 — they’re a significant upgrade and have been shown to be effective for people with light sensitivity. As an easy and completely non-invasive tool, these glasses could significantly improve your day to day life with photophobia.

These glasses have been a life saver for me at work. I currently work in a basement with LED lights with no natural light. I was struggling with eye pain and headaches by the end of each day and these glasses are a miracle!! Thank you. I highly recommend them!

Jennifer, Axon Optics Customer

Use Filtering Software

Rather than turning down the brightness of your computer, phone, or TV, check your settings. Many devices let you adjust from cooler to warmer. You’re better off adjusting toward the warmer spectrum as it will likely be less blue. There are also apps such as f.lux, Iris and Sunset Screen that are worth looking into.

Reduce Exposure at Night

If you find that blue light from TVs and other sources (likely LED lit) disrupt your sleep, try cutting back your use within a few hours of bedtime. And during the evening, while you do use your devices make sure you do so in a well-lit environment. The increased contrast of using an LED-lit device (such as a smartphone) in the dark can produce more sensitivity and eye strain.

Use Alternate Sources

For many people with photophobia, natural light is much more tolerable. Try opening your blinds, using incandescent bulbs, and pay attention to how the different light sources make you feel.

Use Barriers and Other Strategic Tools

At work and in other environments, you can take steps to reduce your exposure to LED light by using the helpful tips in this article. The article is focused on LED lighting, but the tips can definitely be applied to fluorescent lights as well.

Have questions about LED light sensitivity, photophobia or light sensitivity glasses? We want to hear from you in the comments below. Tell us how we can help.

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3 thoughts on “LED Lights & Migraines: Is Your Sensitivity Real?

  1. Phyllis Osman says:

    I have been photophobic for several years. Recently I tried a new medication that increased my light sensitivity exponencialy! I was only on it for a few weeks. I started waking up in the morning with extreme eye pain and new it was from the medication I was trying.

    I also had just purchased a new iPhone that is more Hi Res and has stronger LED than my previous iPhone. One night while I was still on my medication, I watched a documentary on my iPhone at night while holding it in close range to my eyes. That was a huge mistake! AFter watching the Documentary, my eyes felt very strained. Unfortunately, watching that movie ended up causing more damage to my eyes than I realized at the time. Since then, things that were once managable have become very unmanagable. Wearing my Fl41 Lenses doesn’t offer the same type of protection that they used to due to the increased light sensitivity! I thought once I went off of the medication my sensitivity to light would improve but it pretty much has stayed the same.

    I am now adapting to a new normal. I have started to see a small amount of improvement but not very much. It is my hope that you share this story with others so people who suffer from photophobia can understand how LEDs on new devises such as TV’s, Computers, and Smartphones can be detrimental to your eye health. Also taking an SSRI can have rare side effects that can cause extreme photophobia!!

    I read your articles on light sensitivity from incandescent light and LED light. If you have any other suggestions for me, please let me know. Also, I wonder if there are special indoor light bulbs that block out harmful blue light for people who are photophobic?

    • Nicole says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences with harsh LED lighting. Unfortunately, we are unaware of any light bulbs that will work in a similar way that our lenses do. I hope you find some solutions that help.

    • Nicole says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your experience with harsh LED lighting. Unfortunately, we are unaware of any light bulbs that work in the same way as our lenses.

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