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Home » Conditions affected by LED lighting

Conditions affected by LED lighting

Some people with pre-existing health issues, such as those described below can find their conditions exacerbated. However, others with no previous health issues can also experience problems with LED lighting. Some experience severe symptoms, including searing eye pain, debilitating headaches, skin burning and rashes, dizziness, fainting and vomiting.  For others, the symptoms are milder: anxiety, eczema, edginess or just a sensation of discomfort or ‘wrongness’ that is hard to locate.


Light sensitivity is so common in people with migraine that it is itself a diagnostic criterion for the illness. Migraine is estimated to affect one in seven people in the UK and can cause many symptoms, including a throbbing one-sided headache, nausea and vomiting and visual disturbances. For many migraineurs (32 – 40 per cent) light-sensitivity is intricately linked to their condition.

LED lighting may have greater flicker than traditional light sources and some can effectively switch on and off hundreds of times every second. Poorly specified or poorly installed LED lighting can be too bright, creating glare which causes migraines in susceptible individuals and eye pain in others.

Systemic Lupus erythematosus (lupus)

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. About one person in 3,500 has lupus and it is more common in women than in men. Up to 70 per cent of people with lupus have some skin symptoms. Lupus UK estimates that about 30,000 sufferers are adversely affected by fluorescent lighting. LEDs may be better than fluorescent lighting for some as they don’t emit UV light, but some lupus sufferers cannot tolerate LEDs either. Cool white and bright white LEDs emit short-wavelength blue light, which is risky for many lupus sufferers. Lupus sufferers who cannot go out in sunlight may be effectively trapped in their homes at night as well.

Skin disorders

People who suffer from Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), and some people with chronic actinic dermatitis (also known as chronic photosensitive dermatitis) have their conditions made worse by LED lighting.

Autistic Spectrum Conditions

Many people on the autistic spectrum have sensory issues that can affect one or more of the senses that can be either over-developed (hypersensitive) or under-developed (hyposensitive). Both can affect how people experience environments. Fluorescent lighting has been shown to have a particularly negative affect on individuals on the autistic spectrum and flickering LED lighting can also be distressing. Sensitivity to light can manifest in diverse ways. Physical symptoms may include:

  • lower tolerance for light
  • discomfort from fluorescent, LED and other artificial light
  • light avoidance behaviours (e.g. shielding eyes)
  • afterimages and visual snow
  • headaches or migraine.

Other signs may include increased anxiety, repetitive behaviours as well as poor eye contact or eye movement. These types of sensory disruptions can lead to social problems and worsening educational outcomes, for school-aged people on the autistic spectrum and can also make visits to healthcare visits difficult.

The ALAN database

Artificial Light at night has a measurable effect on human health and well being as well as the natural world. There is a growing body of scientific research that measures and tries to understand these effects. The International dark skies Association (IDA), along with the Loss of the Night Network, maintains a comprehensive, searchable database of scientific publications on the impact of artificial light at night. It provides references to scientific literature on all aspects of artificial light at night research.

To access this ALAN Database no login is required. The search window is in the upper right. Research on specific topics can be found by entering a key word (such as sleep, birds, cancer, etc.), author name, publication, etc., into the window. Search results appear in the main part of the window.

Access the ALAN Database

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