Are Grow Lights Bad for your Eyes?

LED grow light

Have you ever wondered why as a child were you always told not to stare into the sun? Even though you were taught in your science class that sunlight is beneficial for the human mind and body, you were not allowed to directly look at the source. It suggests that looking directly at the sun can be damaging to your eyes which raises another question: Are grow lights bad for your eyes as well?

So, the general answer to this question is YES. However, the damage depends on the intensity of light, type of light, and the duration of exposure. Read on to discover if the grow light you are using can harm your vision.

What type of lights can harm our vision?

Before we go into the depth of the electromagnetic spectrum, we need you to remember one simple law: the shorter the wavelength, the greater would be the harm. 

Electromagnetic spectrum


This electromagnetic spectrum shows that the light visible to the human eye occupies the central position in the spectrum. UV rays (on the left) have shorter wavelengths thus being more damaging, while the Infrared rays (on the right) have longer wavelengths.

This takes us to our next point: which color of  the visible light is more harmful to human eye? The answer should have to be Blue light as it is towards the left of the spectrum.

Is a Grow Light harmful to Humans?

Grow lights on eyes

As the artificial grow lights generally contain varying shades of blue and UV rays, they can be harmful if you stare at them for long. So, the best possible option in an environment with grow lights is to avoid directly looking at the grow lights.

HPS and other reddish grow lights have small amounts of blue shade and they are less harmful. However, bluish grow lights like fluorescent or Metal Halide are more dangerous.

To get a better idea of how grow lights can harm our eyes, let’s see the impact of blue lights and UV rays on our eyes, independently.

What is the impact of blue light on the eyes?

Blue light is known to elevate mood, alertness, memory, and cognitive ability. Just like anything else, excessive exposure to blue light can have negative effects on health.

During the night, exposure to blue light secretes melatonin in the human body that interferes with the circadian rhythms and especially disturbs the sleep-wake cycle.

Impact of Blue Light on Eyes

Blue light

Various studies have suggested that extreme exposure to blue lights can impair the functioning of our eyes and here is how:

Cornea, which is the outer clear layer at the front of the eye, does not completely block blue light. So when blue lights fall on the cornea it penetrates straight into the retina.

The retina is composed of sensitive cells. If it is exposed to a high amount of blue light, studies have shown, that a condition similar to macular degeneration is developed.

It requires continuous exposure to the high intensity of blue light, but as we are already surrounded by too much blue light (mobile screens, laptops, LED TV, etc.) adding more blue light into your room in the form of grow light can do irreversible damage.

How does UV light effect our eyes?

Effect of UV light

Both short term and long term exposure to UV light can damage the eyes, negatively affect the vision, and harm the overall health of the eye. There are three types of UV light: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

Just like the blue light,  UVA is not blocked by the cornea and thus passes directly to the retina. It is a known cause of developing conditions related to damage to the retina, such as cataracts. Some studies suggest that it also contributes to macular degeneration.

Though UVB is blocked by the cornea and does not hit the retina, it can damage the outer layer of the eye thus causing conditions like pingueculae ( a yellowish fleshy growth on the conjunctive) and pterygia (pinkish tissue growth on the cornea). Photokeratitis which is the inflammation of the eye can be a result of intense exposure to UVB light.

Effect of LED lights on eyes

Blue light

Exposure to powerful LED light is known to be photo-toxic as it can cause irreversible damage to the retina and compromised vision.

According to a report released by French Agency for Food, Environment, and Occupational Health and Safety, even chronic exposure to high intensity LED light can accelerate the aging of retinal tissues and contribute to a decline in visual activity and macular degeneration.

However, very little exposure to LED light does not have much harmful impact on the eyes.

Now as we have established that intense exposure to grow lights has harmful effects on eyes, let’s see how to protect your eyes if you are a professional indoor grower.

How to protect the eyes when using LED grow lights?

Sun glasses

If you spend long hours working beneath grow lights, follow these tips to protect your eyes against the harmful effects.

1-Do not stare directly into the light

The amount of harm caused by the grow lights depends on the intensity of light and the exposure to it. Any light is more harmful when you stare at it directly. So the solution is simple, just do not stare at it.

2- Wear grow glasses

If you are a professional grower, we do not recommend regular sunglasses. Not because they can not protect your eyes but because they are not designed for the unique radiations from grow lights.

Grow glasses are available online on amazon and various other sites. You can customize your glasses according to the type/color of grow lights you are using. LED glasses can also be used for general use.

3-Regular Sunglasses

If you do not use a large number of grow lights for your indoor plants, regular sunglasses can somehow protect you from the effects.

Concluding Thoughts

Grow lights are the most popular and energy-efficient choice for indoor gardening systems. However, if you are a professional grower who spends most of his time around grow lights, you need to take some steps to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the light. Find about the ideal grow room temperature for efficient plant growth.

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