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Cameron Dozier

Study Says LED Light Dangerous to Eyes - Bad News for Film?

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This is an interesting one. It's long been talked about as "blue light hazard" and would also apply to discharge lamps including fluorescent and HMI. Before we get into this, though, it's worth pointing out that many articles which discuss this, including the one you linked, tend to conflate actual retina damage (phototoxicity) with disturbed circadian cycles and headaches potentially caused by flicker, which are presumably not medically related issues.

If you look into the background of this the damage is usually only done with fairly unrealistic levels of exposure. A normal human aversion response will save most people in most circumstances. This may mean that the film industry needs to take at least some care, because we quite frequently ask actors not to look like they're squinting into the light. It's probably not a good idea to do that, but then it was never a good idea to do that, even with older style lighting.

Personally I think the evidence doesn't really suggest that the additional exposure of film and TV work is likely to cause problems assuming reasonable precautions are taken. Don't make people stare into uncomfortably bright lights, especially those with a high shortwave output. I suspect HMI is worse than LED, as most LEDs don't have output below about 450nm whereas HMIs go all the way down to the near UV.

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