Myth busting: Are LED Christmas lights bad for your eyes?

22 December 2020

Author: Kate Green

christmas lights affect eyes

Dreaming of a bright Christmas


Christmas lights are top of the festive favourites list for many people. Whether they’re wrapped around your Christmas tree, or adorning the front of your house, they definitely help spread the festive cheer – which is perhaps needed during 2020’s Christmas season more than any other! Despite lights being almost universally loved, everyone’s preference for different light colours varies. Are you a multi-coloured or white light fan? Flashing or static? Some hues have different effects on people’s eyes, not to mention the whole debate surrounding flashing LEDs, and whether or not they damage your eyes.


We’re going to delve into the impact of Christmas LED lights, and look at how you can reduce the effects of eye strain that can sometimes be caused by exposure to them.


How do LED lights actually affect your eyes?


Some people believe that LED lights can make you go blind. A number of studies over the years have looked into the strength of LED lights and the effects on the human eye of looking at them too closely, or for too long a period. One study suggested that exposure to LEDs can accelerate the ageing of retinal tissue. It was thought that this may contribute to a decline in visual acuity, and bring on certain degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. However, this damage is only thought to occur after chronic exposure, so if you’re just popping your Christmas lights up for a few weeks in December, chances are you’ll be completely unaffected.


Further to this, you are likely to experience some form of visual damage from staring at any form of light for too long at a close visual range. We all know not to look at the sun, or shine a torch directly into our eyes, so we should behave in the same manner with LEDs.


Why do LED lights cause eye strain?


Aside from the brightness of LEDs, it’s also important to note that, instead of a constant stream of light being emitted, LEDs actually flash constantly – just so quickly that our brains don’t notice it. Even if we don’t visually notice this speedy turning on/off of the lights, our eyes certainly feel the strain. We can actually see over 2,000 flashes of light within a second due to the very fast movement of the human eye!


Christmas LED lights


What are the symptoms of eye strain?


There are several symptoms of light-induced eye strain. Look out for:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Eye inflammation
  • Burning sensation
  • Frequent blinking or squinting
  • Feeling dizzy


How can you reduce the strain?


Finding some Christmas LED lights which are flicker free should help reduce any eye strain brought on by LEDs. Having a steady, constant stream of light stops your eyes from picking up thousands of tiny flashes and becoming strained that way. Some of the latest LED Christmas lights also have a dimmable feature to help reduce the strain and give your eyes a bit of a break. These types of lights are often more expensive than your standard LEDs but, if you tend to suffer with eye strain due to festive lights, they could be an option for you.


Lots of people find that blue-toned Christmas lights have a worse effect on their eyes than warm-toned Christmas lights. In other words, if you’re looking for white lights to string up around the house, you might want purchase the ones which appear more yellow in colour than blue.


Whatever your preference for Christmas lights is, we hope you find some which don’t strain your eyes, and still allow your home to feel festive and cosy in the run up to the big day!


Merry Christmas from everyone at Optimax, and we’re wishing you all the best for 2021.

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