ANSES report confirms toxicity of blue light exposure on the retina: what does this mean for LED safety?

24 May 2019

ANSES (The French National Agency for Food Safety, Environment and Labor) has published an update of its 2010 expertise on the health effects of LEDs, in light of new scientific knowledge available.

The report confirms the toxicity of blue light on the retina and highlights the disturbance of biological rhythms and sleep.

What is blue light hazard?

‘Blue light retinal injury’ is the name given to type II photochemically induced photoretinopathy (retina burn) caused by the absorption of light by the eye’s retinal pigmented epithelial cells. Retinal injury includes a blind spot and a loss of vision, although recovery may be possible in mild cases.

Whilst the spectral sensitivity of this hazard can range from 300nm to 700nm, the peak sensitivity is between 435-440nm, hence the "blue" label.

Blue light hazard and LED products

Acute blue light retinal injury is extremely rare, as natural aversion and greater awareness of the dangers of bring lights mean excessive staring at lamps is not likely (more commonly, injury is encountered in the accidental viewing of the sun or welding arcs). However, the concerns for long-term, low-level exposure (as encountered, for example, in the use of mobile devices) had been an area requiring further research. 

The latest data, as reported by ANSES (French document), now confirms that blue light retinal injury can be caused by both short-term acute exposure as well as long-term chronic exposure.

ANSES, therefore, recommends changing the regulatory framework applicable to all LED systems, in particular:

  • To restrict the availability of LED objects to the general public to those of photobiological risk group 0 or 1;
  • To limit the luminous intensity of the headlights of motor vehicles, while guaranteeing road safety;
  • To minimize the temporal modulation level of light emitted by all light sources (lights, screens, LED objects).

How to accurately test LED safety 

In order to help certification companies, lamp manufacturers and luminaire manufacturers to comply with existing policies from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENLEC), we have developed the ISR300-PSL Luminaire Blue Light Hazard Spectroradiometer, to accurately evaluate blue light hazard across all classes of lighting products.

The ISR300-PSL provides a measurement capability spanning the 300-780nm spectral range, required for testing to international standards. It offers the luminaire manufacturer the most reliable and accurate direct assessment of blue light hazard so that products can be developed for compliance and accurate safety information provided.

With the ANSES report denoting changes to future standards, the ISR300-PSL will become all the more invaluable for photobiological safety testing and accreditation.

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