Evaluating the blue-light hazard from solid state lighting

Int J Occup Saf Ergon. 2019 Jun;25(2):311-320. doi: 10.1080/10803548.2017.1375172. Epub 2017 Oct 6.


Purpose: New light sources including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have elicited questions about retinal damage, including the blue-light hazard. Some organizations have recommended avoiding using LEDs with correlated color temperatures exceeding 3000 K, since they tend to produce greater short-wavelength energy. This article provides quantitative comparisons among light sources and use cases as they affect the blue-light hazard.

Methods: The spectral radiant power characteristics of incandescent, fluorescent, LED and daylight sources were evaluated in terms of blue-light hazard using standard procedures for phakic, aphakic and pseudophakic eyes.

Results: Under most use cases, LEDs do not exhibit greater risk for the blue-light hazard than other sources (e.g., incandescent). Because they generally produce little to no ultraviolet energy, LEDs often present less risk to aphakic eyes.

Conclusions: LEDs present no special concerns for the blue-light hazard over some other common sources in typical use cases because photophobic responses limit exposure to bright sources. Where photophobic responses might not occur (e.g., eye surgery patients or premature infants) or where individuals suppress these responses (e.g., stage actors), caution is necessary. Evidence remains inconsistent regarding the risk of human retinal damage from long-term exposures to light insufficient to reach acute blue-light hazard thresholds.

Keywords: lighting; photoprotection; retinal hazard; spectral power distribution.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aphakia
  • Color
  • Humans
  • Light / adverse effects*
  • Lighting / instrumentation*
  • Retinaldehyde / radiation effects
  • Sunlight


  • Retinaldehyde