CFL Light Bulbs Will Blind Us: Macular Degeneration and CFLs – Thanks Al Gore

07 Spiral CFL Bulb 2010-03-08 (SVG)I did a bit of reading today about the pros and cons of Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb (CFL) and Light Emitting Diodes (LED). As most of you, starting on January 1st this year almost all incandescent light bulbs were “phased out” of manufacturing and replaced with, for the most part, CFL and LED light bulbs.


Because polar bears are losing their environments to global warming or some such.

Here’s a little something that I never saw mentioned in any of these articles, in fact it’s something I just learned myself.

My day job is in a little optometry office (optometrists are “eye doctors”) and the optometrist was participating in some online continuing education classes the other day, which gave her some enlightening information about CFLs and LEDs.*

They are more damaging to our eyes than incandescent eyes ever were.

Both CFL and LED bulbs emit energy spikes in the “blue light” spectrum (between 400 and 480nm) at a much higher rate than incandescent bulbs do.

Mercury vapor lamps are CFLs, just fyi A Tungsten lamp is an incandescent.

Mercury vapor lamps are CFLs, just fyi
A Tungsten lamp is an incandescent.

Why is this bad for the eyes?

Long term exposure to blue light has a rather nasty effect on your retina and may be causing us to develop Macular Degeneration at a younger age.

I can already hear you asking "what's a retina?" So here you go.

I can already hear you asking “what’s a retina?” So here you go.

There is a growing body of evidence that cumulative lifetime exposure to blue wavelength light increases the risk of AMD. Developmentally, by early childhood, the cornea and crystalline lens of the eye effectively block ultraviolet light from reaching the retina. However visible light, which includes blue wavelength light, is transmitted to the retina and macula. The Beaver Dam Eye Study found that subjects in their teens through thirties, when exposed to an additional 3 hours of sunlight per day (over a normal exposure rate of 2 hours) advanced the onset of AMD in their lives by 10 years, effectively doubling the likelihood of becoming blind during a lifetime.

Incandescent light bulbs are being legislated away to conserve energy − the “greening” of America. This would be OK if replacement light sources were green, as in green wavelength light. However, fluorescent, CFL, and LED bulbs, while energy efficient, have a high blue-spectral emission. If you are reading this online, you are getting a large dose of blue light as LCD computer screens are backlit by fluorescent bulbs. So efforts to reduce our carbon footprint may have the unintended consequence of potentiating AMD.

The AMD epidemic (Dr. Gary Morgan)

What is AMD or “macular degeneration” you ask?

It’s hard to explain, but here’s an optometrist’s description:

In a healthy eye light hits the retina and creates a photo chemical reaction which causes an electric impulse that goes to the brain to create vision. Byproducts of that impulse get discharged and usually that discharge is dealt with and treated as waste in a healthy eye, but in an eye with macular degeneration the byproducts build up and cause the retina to split and crack so that it can no longer function.

Confusing? Well neither you nor I went to optometry school. Maybe a visual will help you understand what AMD does to your vision.

Click on the photo to go to a page that describes the different forms of AMD

Click on the photo to go to a page that describes the different forms of AMD

Basically it destroys your central vision.

Not the way you want to be looking at your grandchildren…or your own children for that matter.

We have career politicians and lawyers and EPA wonks making up regulations like this and they should not be. They have no idea what sort of medical and health repercussions these decision will cause. Not a single one of these politicians (besides Rand Paul, who is an ophthalmologist) know anything about eye care or the medical effects of what they are regulating.

Good job congress, you put the country on a fast track to blindness because you wanted to save the polar bears or stop the ice caps from melting or something like that.


Personally I care a lot more about the health of my eyes than I do about the polar ice caps.

Forget the mercury in CFLs, forget the expense, this is the real reason we should not want to use CFLs or LEDs more than we already do. I have to keep using my laptop for work, but can I please please please keep my light bulbs from slowly blinding me?

Thank you.


LEDs are also what is in your iPad and Smart phone and TV screen generally.

So please, don’t even get me started on these things.

At least no one is trying to legislate parents into using these.

At least no one is trying to legislate parents into using these.

It’s like you don’t even want your kid to have central vision by the time they’re 10.

Stop it.







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Categorised in: America, Nerd Stuff, Politics

6 Responses »

  1. These new bulbs give me migraines. New is not necessarily better!!!! Leave our light bulbs alone!!!

  2. Hey don't forge the part about, oh the mercury. YOU know the stuff that used to in thermometers until they had to admit it was TOXIC. Yeah, that stuff that can kill. If one breaks in your home you are immediately ventilate and EVACUATE the room (especially smalls animals they say). YOu cannot use a vacuum as that will send the mercury airborne. You are instructed to use GLVOES and a MASK when cleaning up the broken bulb. Hhmm, wonder how well mercury comes out of carpeting?

    Oh and there's that thing about having to use gas – something I know lobbies HATE to do – to DRIVE your used bulbs to a "recycling" location because you cannot throw them in the trash! You know, because of the MERCURY.

    I think the CFLs tag line should be…"Eugenics through lighting"

    • I didn't forget about the mercury…just everyone always talks about that part constantly. I haven't seen anyone address this particular issue though.

  3. Yeah, I haven't either, actually. I posted this on my FB page and a "friend" commented that according to the chart, the CFls are no worse on blue light than natural light. :/ I attempted to explain that the bulbs would add ADDITIONAL exposure beyond that of normal sunlight exposure, hence resulting in damage. Kind of like the difference between catching a few days for an hour or 2 everyday during the summer months or spending all your free time baking in the tanning bed. One is healthily, the latter is damaging because it's "too much". Anyway, as with many other progressive stunts on our freedoms no one will recognize this until it's too late. It took, what, 30 years for asbestos to be considered toxic.

    • You are completely right.
      You might point out the section that quotes the results of the Beaver Dam Eye Study, which shows just that. Extra exposure over the "normal" amount is what we want to avoid.
      According the optometrist I work for the real issue is also that the energy occurs in spikes with the bulbs, unlike natural sunlight. This means your pupil is not contracting the way it would in bright sunlight which allows more of the blue light to reach your retina.

      And yeah, but at least Asbestos wasn't essentially mandated for use.


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