Warm light is best for the eyes. This includes filtered natural light and light produced by incandescent and LED light bulbs. (Learn More)

Spread out lighting in your home and workspace to ensure sufficient lighting. It’s also recommended to work with directed lighting when doing tasks that require detail and close work, such as reading or writing.

UV light, such as that produced by the sun and florescent tube lighting, can damage the eyes without proper protection. (Learn More)

Blue light — which is produced by televisions, smartphones, tablets, and computers — is a form of "cool" light that can be harmful on the eyes in high and extended doses. (Learn More)

Taking frequent screen breaks and wearing sunglasses when outside can help to maintain good eye health. Also, ensure you live and work in well-lit areas that use natural and warm lighting. (Learn More)

The Best Kinds of Light for Your Eyes

woman reading book indoors

For your eye health, the best kinds of lighting to live and work with include warm light sources, such as natural light. Your windows can filter and block the UV light from the sun and allow natural warm light in during the day. This is good for your eyes.

Artificial warm light includes sources like incandescent bulbs and LED bulbs, which are more energy efficient. You can also buy full spectrum light bulbs for your light fixtures that attempt to mimic the warm natural lighting of the sun without the harmful UV rays.

Light bulbs are rated in lumens, wattage, and Kelvin. Lumens refers to a bulb's brightness, while wattage is the power of the bulb. Looking at Kelvin ratings can typically help you to determine the type, or color, of the light produced by the bulb. The lower the Kelvin rating, the warmer the light and the less harsh it will be on your eyes.

Softer lighting is better for eye health. Cool and bright light is often required for workspaces and more detailed tasks.

Types of Light to Avoid

photophobia

Some of the most harmful light to your eyes is UV (ultraviolet light), such as that emitted by florescent tube lighting and the sun. Exposure to UV light can lead to cataracts and blindness, the American Optometric Association (AOA) warns. Your eyes need to be protected from long-term and repeated exposure to this form of light.

Typically, the windows in your car and house filter UV rays while still allowing in natural light. When you are outside, wear UV protection sunglasses or hats to keep the light out of your eyes directly.

Florescent tube lighting also contains UV rays that can be damaging to the eyes. It should therefore be avoided if possible. Wear protective eyewear if you work in an environment where this type of lighting is used.

Blue light is another form of light that can be potentially harmful to the eyes. Blue light is a form of cool light on the vision spectrum that produces a lot of energy. It is emitted by computer, TV, tablet, and smartphone screens.

Alarmist reports that blue light can lead to blindness are likely false, but long-term blue light exposure and extended screen time can potentially lead to digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome (CVS).

The main issues with CVS are eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, and neck and back tension. These can all be relieved by minimizing screen time and taking frequent breaks from looking at your smartphone or computer.

Exposure to blue light can potentially disrupt your sleep. It is a good idea to limit your screen time before bed in order to get a good night's sleep.

Lighting Tips

man smiling at computer

Follow these tips to improve lighting and protect your vision:

  • Use multiple light sources in a room to increase the amount of light without using super bright bulbs.
  • Consider warm light bulbs over cool light fixtures and bulbs. Combination lighting can use different types of light to get as close to a natural feel as possible.
  • Use lamps with directed light for tasks like reading and writing.
  • Work in areas that are well-lit to decrease potential eye strain related to dim lighting.
  • Try to minimize glare by positioning lights and screens appropriately.
  • Open blinds and curtains, and allow as much natural light into your home and workspace as possible.
  • Protect your eyes from UV and sunlight when outside. Wear sunglasses, hats, and/or protective eyewear.
  • Limit and reduce exposure to blue light by taking frequent screen breaks. Use the 20-20-20 rule when spending a lot of time looking at a screen. Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes you are engaging in screen time. Put away all screens and minimize exposure to blue light at least an hour or two before bedtime.

Your ophthalmologist can help you to decide what types of lighting are best for your eyes.

References

Warm Light Bulbs Versus Cool Light Bulbs: Which Should You Buy? (September 2018). CNET.

Light and Eye Damage. (December 2014). American Optometric Association (AOA).

No, Blue Light From Your Smart Phone Is Not Blinding You. (August 2018). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Computer Vision Syndrome. (2019). American Optometric Association (AOA).

Blue Light Has a Dark Side. (August 2018). Harvard Health.

Lighting for Reading. (2019). Vision Aware.