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I Wish I Knew These Tips on Choosing the Right Light Bulbs for Eye Health Earlier

I Wish I Knew These Tips on Choosing the Right Light Bulbs for Eye Health Earlier

There is no doubt that the focus on reducing energy consumption in the past decade has led to the increased use of fluorescent light bulbs over conventional incandescent bulbs. While there are definitely benefits to having your home and office equipped with efficient CFL bulbs, new research suggests that overdoing it can lead to adverse effects on your vision.

Indeed, one study out of the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia, found that overexposure to “cool” or “bright white” fluorescent bulbs in office buildings, markets, schools, and other commercial areas can lead to several vision-afflicting maladies.

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They concluded that you are putting yourself at the greatest risk if you are exposed to this kind of lighting for 45 hours a week or more. Once you pass that threshold, you’re increasing your risk of acquiring not only cataracts, but diseases like pterygia, which causes a non-cancerous tissue to grow on the whites of your eyes, eventually obscuring your vision.

What is it that causes “cool” and “bright white” fluorescent bulbs to have this effect? It is the excess amount of UV radiation they emit, which equals or exceeds the amount contained within sunlight. If you spend enough time in this kind of light, which many people do (especially in office spaces), you increase your risk of causing “”irreparable damage to [your eyes],” according to this study. Many people are already at risk of developing cataracts as they age, and increased use of high UV fluorescent bulbs has only made the situation worse.

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Indeed, one of the coauthors of this study, Helen Walls, states that “exposure to ‘cool white’ fluorescents for 45 hours per week throughout your working life may increase your risk of getting cataracts at age 50 by between 2 and 12 percent.”

Remember: this kind of damage is caused by indirect exposure to the light emitted by bright fluorescents. You probably increase your risk exponentially if you stare at them directly with your naked eyes. I add that because, while most of us are told not to look directly at the sun, we’re never really told not to look directly at a light bulb.

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For an outline of the light bulbs you should avoid, light bulbs you should buy, and steps you can take to protect yourself, read on.

Light Bulbs To Avoid

  • High efficiency “cool” and “bright white” fluorescent bulbs. They usually emit a slightly bluish light along with copious amounts of UV radiation, and are often used in schools and offices.

Light Bulbs To Buy

  • Traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • “Warm white” fluorescent CFLs, which mimic the glow of an incandescent bulb while still being energy efficient. Additionally, they do not emit as much UV radiation as their brighter counterparts.
  • LED bulbs.
  • Halogen bulbs are also an option in special cases. They are bright enough for most tasks, do not emit UV radiation, and are only slightly more inefficient than CFLs.

For a look at how much these bulbs cost, check this useful site (this one is good too). Typically speaking though, LEDs are the most expensive but use the least amount of energy. Flourescents are much cheaper but not nearly as efficient as LEDs. Incandescents cost the least up front, but use the most energy.

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Steps You Can Take

  • Don’t replace all of your incandescent bulbs at home with “bright white” fluorescents. As the researchers note in their study, this only increases the time that your eyes are exposed to excess UV radiation during the week.
  • Use natural lighting when you can, especially while at work. Most buildings have UV resistant glass installed, so the light filtered in through your window is healthier for you than the fluorescent light above you or on your desk.
  • If you work outside, wear sunglasses at all times.
  • If you work inside, consider purchasing glasses that protect you from UV light, such as these.

The main takeaway here is that you can drastically improve your eye health by taking a few precautionary measures both at work and at home. Trust me, your eyes will thank you as you get older!

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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