Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

New evidence has just come to light that simple domestic LED lighting can cause retinal damage in mice, this is not surprising as I have already blogged about LED light damage in the past.

It’s not the frequency of the light but the intensity, I have on occasions been setting up an LED light for studio use and looked into the rows of lights for a millisecond and had an after image for at least 5 minutes which is not good.

Our business is awash with hi-brightness LED lighting which is far more damaging than the domestic LED lighting that affected mice.

Extract fron Life Science Journal


The present data clearly demonstrated irradiation of the white LED is above 400 nm and is not within the ultraviolet light region. However, the exposure of eye in LED illuminated environment was related to the development of photoreceptor loss. It must be noted that the light illuminations used in the present study as an experimental tool were not fully similar to normal condition that which would impinge upon the retina.

The evidence is now mounting but there are steps you can take to limit the damage.

1. You “MUST” at all times diffuse your LED lights unless you are bouncing the light and only if the light is out of direct line of sight i.e. a ceiling.

2. Cut down the brightness by using dimmable LED lights.

3. Do NOT point any video LED light at anyone at any time without a soft box or diffusion.

I love LED lights and use them all the time but as you can see by my example I always diffuse my LED lights especially the ones in front of the presenter (red line).

LED lights are a great asset to any video kit but the evidence is now growing that they are dangerous to the human eye if exposed over a period of time especially without diffusion.

All LED video light manufacturers should supply LED lights with diffusion built in, the only good thing is that LED lights are heat free so attaching a scrim, diffusion is easy and you can use simple plastic pegs or bull clips.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

14 thoughts on “Further evidence of LED light damaging your eyes (UPDATE)

  1. I’m curious about this statement in the report and on your site.

    “It must be noted that the light illuminations used in the present study as an experimental tool were not fully similar to normal condition that which would impinge upon the retina.”

    What does this mean?

    The mice in the study had 2hrs of LED light shone into their eyes consistently for 2 to 4 weeks with 450Nm lights.

    Are your lights 450Nm lights? Will you be shining them in people’s eyes for 2hrs a day for 2 to 4 weeks, day after day?

  2. Because certain LED video lights don’t come with a diffuser box cameramen are assuming they are fine to use in fact many LED companies use pictures with LED lights not being diffused.
    You can’t look into any of my LED video lights without a diffuser the light is far too intense.

  3. Who is saying that are not OK to use?

    Of course you can’t look into an LED without a diffuser. You can’t look into an HMI without a diffuser either. That doesn’t make them ‘dangerous’ to use.

  4. I too find the language of the quoted article confusing, however the fact remains that looking at super-bright LEDs is harmful. This is not because of the frequency of the emitted light, but its intensity, hence the recommendation to diffuse it. We all know it is dangerous to look at the sun; high-powered LEDs are similarly bright.

  5. HMI’s were at a price that only professionals could afford them, LED lights are ten a penny and 600W LED lights are £500 far more affordable than any HMI, therefore they are far more widely available than HMI ever were.
    It makes sense to point out the intensity problem to a wider audience who may not be aware of it’s damaging properties.

  6. Writing style aside, I found this as a useful reminder to not look directly into any light source for extended periods of time and to use proper diffusion. Thanks. It also is a worrisome reality for anyone who is front of a camera and light for extended periods of time. Shoots usually take longer than two hours…

  7. Yep, deffo not good. Have recently bought led desk lamp and the 48 led row caught my eyes when the light strip was upside down and had that blurred copy of led images ringing through my eyes for the next few minutes, trippy experience.

  8. I think it is important to note the necessity of ambient lighting…I had both eyes retinas detach while using my laptop in the dark .i was using it for an extended period. Both eyes had numerous tears in addition to the detached retinas….. Nothing seems to be mentioned of the dangers associated with using devices in the dark.

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