765048 tn?1234585450

Light sensitivity to fluorescent lights

I just started working fulltime in an office two weeks ago and am having increasing problems with my vision and headaches, which I feel is related to the frequency of the fluorescent lighting. Since I've never spent so long under fluorescent lighting, this is a new experience for me. I have spells where my eyes go strange, not fuzzy because I can still focus, but strange because I can't see clearly, like a skewed TV screen in a way. Difficult to describe. After the vision disruption, which in some spells lasts about 20 minutes, I have a headache which can last for hours. When the spell passes, I'm normal again with no vision problems.

I need to know how I can protect myself from this negative lighting environment so I can keep working to pay my keep.

I hear that 25% of the population suffers with sensitivity to fluorescent lighting, which is way too many for any healthy society. I think it's important that we keep incandescent lighting around for those who are made ill by fluorescent lighting.


This discussion is related to Light sensitivity to fluorescent lights?.
93 Responses
Avatar universal
Some suggestions:

1. Find a workstation where the lighting above is behind you rather than in front of you.

2. Remove the tubes above your workstation. Removing a tube or two will not affect the general brightness of the office. Office lighting tend to be a bit bright to maintain certain level of illumination, though they can be a bit overkill.

3. Replace the fluorescent lights with LED lights. Its save more energy than flourescent lights.
1417546 tn?1282146618
In my opinion, the best idea would be to retrofit your fluorescent lights, which means changing the magnetic ballasts that have a lower frequency (a lower frequency means that the light will flicker more slowly). Replace the magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts that these days basically eliminate light flicker. When you replace a magnetic ballast with an electronic one, you must replace the lamps, or bulbs. Magnetic ballasts use a T12 fluorescent bulb, and electronic ballasts require a newer, T8(recomend) or T5(don't recomend) bulbs. Sometimes, changing the light color or color rendering index (CRI) may effect things in a good way. The light color is measured in Kelvin temperature--the lower the number, the more red, or more yellow the light will be, and the higher the temperature, the bluer, or whiter the light will be. Changing the CRI basically means that the colors in the room are going to be truer as the CRI number goes up (which is good for the eyes). I usually recomend somewhere around 4100k color for office environments, which is kind of in the middle of the spectrum, and and 840 CRI. If there's windows in the office, light harvesting can be used to ease the fluorescent light intensity. Light harvesting will dim the lights as it gets brighter outside (wal-mart does this).

Matt Versteeg

Heritage Electric, Denver, CO
Avatar universal
Yes, take your reactions to flourescent lights seriously. As a professional researcher, I would add an observation. You cannot prove a negative and people almost never do. People have not researched flourescent lights to show they have_no_adverse effects for_anyone. It is simply assumed. This is not science, it's just faith. There are enormous commercial factors at play. There is a long history of people, including scientists, assuming things that are commonplace are safe until proven otherwise. Tobacco smoking is perhaps the most salient case in point. Of course, I am not suggesting that flourescent lighting is as harmful as this for most. The point is simply that something being commonplace is simply not evidence that it has no adverse effects.

I get twitches/spasms in the eyelids, then strained vision, eventually fatigue and general feeling of strain and malaise. It's utterly predictable--I can take about an hour in flourescent lighting before the effects become strong, then they escalate quite dramatically. I only need a relatively short break to come back to normal, provided I don't stay in an enironment in which the light is all from a flourescent source for 3 hrs or more, roughly. Fortunately, I don't get migranes, though it is a very predictable reaction that ranges from difficult to endure through to extreme stress and strain on my nervous system.

Avatar universal
I also have begun to have severe eye strain and migraines when looking at a computer all day under fluorscent lights. This is especially aggrevated by the window with bright light coming in all morning, no matter how much I block it from my screen.  My eyes have been tested normal and this does not happen to me any time or any where else.  I changed by word processing screen to a gray vs white background, which helped some. Our electrician told me there are red fluorescent lights to replace the bright white ones that are now recommended for offices. I'm going to check that out. I also am getting an anti-glare screen to make my screen darker, even though it is already anti-glare. Short of turning off all the lights and putting darker shades on our office's windows, that's all I can do. Turning off the lights does help a little.
Avatar universal
I'll try to keep this short and concise as there's a ton of reading required and that doesn't help we who suffer from the use of the infernal PC and fluorescent lighting.
I was (mis) diagnosed with Benign Positional Proximital Vertigo when sudden onset of dizziness took over my life. For those that don’t know simply put that’s a problem with the balance organs in the inner ear.
I also started to get migraines on a very regular basis, not suffered since childhood.

I think the ‘experts’ are all wrong, and yes I had the eyes tested, the ct, mri, and any other test and machine induced intrusion carried out with the result….. B.P.P.V.

Then I went on the net.
After A LOT of work I came to a few conclusions……

Suggestions from the web are to turn your monitor back light down as low as you can and still be able to read the screen. If you do it at night you'll find it might be too dull during the day.
Change all fonts on the net browser and outlook express-e-mail, word docs etc to Verdana (designed for pc 's).
Go on line and look up Microsoft's 'clear type tuning' and adjust your monitor view accordingly.
Increase all font settings to medium or higher (larger).
I also changed the screen for an LED back lit model (now very reasonably priced compared to a few years back).

Migraines cleared up within a few weeks with the exception of one in 6 months NOT 1 a week or more……

I did A LOT more internet browsing and removed ALL modern power saving fluorescent lighting from my home and replaced it with power saving Halogen bulbs, now made to replace the old style light bulb and just as good if not better light than either of the other types.

I also now do this on a daily basis, without fail …….

Eye exercises

Look up and down 20 times. Start slowly at first, then speed up.

Look from one side to the other 20 times. Start slowly at first, then speed up.

Hold up one finger at arm's length. Focus on it. Move it slowly in towards you and out again 20 times.

Head exercises

With your eyes open, bend your head forwards, then backwards, 20 times. Start slowly at first, then speed up.

With your eyes open, turn your head from side to side 20 times. Start slowly at first, then speed up.

As the dizziness improves, repeat the head exercises with your eyes closed.

Sitting exercises

Shrug your shoulders 20 times.

Turn your shoulders to the right and left 20 times.

From the sitting position, bend down and pick up objects from the floor, and sit back up again. Repeat 20 times.

Standing exercises

Move from sitting to standing up, and back again, with your eyes open, 20 times.

Repeat with eyes closed.

Throw a small ball from one hand to the other, above eye level, 20 times.

Throw the ball from hand to hand at knee level, 20 times.

Turn around 360 degrees on the spot, eyes open.

Repeat with eyes closed.

As vertigo lessens, speed up.

Moving about exercises (special caution advised)

Walk across the floor with your eyes open 20 times.

Repeat with eyes closed.

Walk up and down a slope with your eyes open 20 times.

Repeat with eyes closed.

Walk up and down steps 20 times with your eyes open.

Repeat with eyes closed.

Any game or exercise that involves stooping, turning, bending, stretching and hand-eye coordination - for example bowling, tennis - is good for improving your balance.

After 6 weeks my vertigo has almost disappeared, I still get odd spells where it’s bad but no longer days and days with constant headaches.
I must add I no longer go into stores which use fluorescent light if I can avoid it (my long suffering wife will do so for me). If I do have to I am in and out FAST!

Ok, so sometimes I think it’s all in my head (NO pun intended!) until recently. Feeling SO much better I went to a friends for our weekly poker night and (with their understanding) replaced the horrible overhead ‘power saving’ fluorescent with a bulb I brought along for just such an evening having decided I had lost enough money due to onset of headaches during the evening games!
Yes an improvement, for a while. After about an hour the familiar feelings began to creep into my head and a depression took over. I guessed I was wrong after all.

I then noticed a small table lamp within reach with a long shade on it. I asked if it was a ‘power saving’ fluorescent. It was. I had no idea, couldn’t see the bulb and assumed it was a regular bulb all these weeks thinking no one uses the ‘power saving’ fluorescent in a table lamp. I turned it off.
Within an hour my head began to clear and by the time we left for home I was nearly back to ‘normal’. We still lost!

So if it is all in the mind I am a clairvoyant!

My dizziness/vertigo continues to abate as do my headaches and I work VERY hard at avoiding all ‘power saving’ fluorescent, even refusing to visit with friends if they have them and won’t turn them off.

If this helps anyone then I feel I have given something back for all the help the internet and NOT the Doctors has given me this year.
Good luck and don’t stop searching, there is an answer out there but you will need to believe in yourself and do what is required to achieve some respite from these infernal devices.
P.S. I now have a not inconsiderable cost changing recently purchased flat screen TV’s (back lit by ‘power saving’ fluorescent) for the new models that are now LED backlit. I wonder why ‘they’ are changing the way they light TV monitors so soon after the launch of flat screens……………..one reason put out there is the new LED are even better at saving energy, right.
thank you - this sounds just like me, I am so grateful to read your advice
Avatar universal
Incandescent, Halogen, Vapour light bulbs produces much more heat energy than Fluorescent bulbs and its harmful to use these other bulbs for close up works.
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