Objective: To determine the prevalence of fluorescent light toxicity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: SLE patients were polled about their symptomatic responses to sunlight and cool white fluorescent light. Photometry was used to determine the levels of ultraviolet (UV) emissions from fluorescent lamps.
Results: Thirteen of 30 photosensitive SLE patients described increases in disease activity following exposure to unshielded fluorescent lamps. Photometry indicated that these lamps emit substantial levels of UV-B (280-320 nm) radiation, which is toxic to patients with SLE. Standard acrylic diffusers absorbed this radiation, and their use was associated with almost no patient-reported problems.
Conclusion: Fluorescent lamps, emitting UV-B radiation, induce disease activity in photosensitive SLE patients. Standard acrylic diffusers absorb UV-B radiation and appear to be protective against induction of disease activity with the use of fluorescent lamps.