View Full Version : Fluorescent light bulbs and Lupus

06-25-2009, 12:10 PM
An email article I received....

Lighting the Way
by Emily Wojcik
If you have lupus, chances are you’re familiar with photosensitivity, or abnormal sensitivity to light. Between 40 and 70 percent of people with systemic lupus find their disease is made worse by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, and the lesions of cutaneous lupus are highly photosensitive. The sun is the major source of ultraviolet light, but UV rays also come from indoor lighting, like energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. Since the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted in December 2007 -- requiring that all light bulbs in the United States use 30 percent less energy by 2012 and 70 percent less by 2020 -- these bulbs have become a hot trend. But what sort of risk do they pose for people with lupus?

Two types of ultraviolet rays cause photosensitive reactions: type A, commonly known as UVA, which has longer-term effects on aging, and type B, or UVB, which causes sunburns. Richard D. Sontheimer, M.D. (formerly vice chairman of the Department of Dermatology at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, now professor of dermatology at University of Utah Health Sciences Center), conducted a recent study on both types of bulbs and found that the highest amount of UVA leaks from old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs, though they give off very little UVB. The fluorescent bulbs, unfortunately, release both types. His recommendation? Shielded compact fluorescents, which are covered during manufacturing (see sidebar) to prevent leaks of either type.

Sontheimer’s study focused on light sources at close range (up to about 1.5 feet away), roughly the distance from a desk lamp. Although this was a preliminary pilot study involving a small number of light sources, and the results need to be confirmed by a larger study, very little risk of UVA or UVB exposure was seen from fluorescent lights that were farther away, such as overhead fixtures. Other studies, though, have shown that people with lupus can experience photosensitivity even at these distances. So what does this mean for you?

If you’re switching to energy-efficient lighting in your home, ask for shielded compact fluorescents at your local hardware store. If you work at an office that has overhead fluorescent lighting, try to find out what kinds of bulbs are being used to comply with the energy bill. Sontheimer notes that an acrylic plastic diffuser will shield UVB emission from standard fluorescent lights if shielded bulbs are not available. If you experience photosensitivity reactions at work (such as lesions or rashes, joint pain in hands or wrists, fatigue, or other symptoms of systemic lupus), talk to your boss or the human resources department about switching to shielded bulbs or getting acrylic shades for overhead and desk lamps. For more information about workplace accommodations, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 800-669-4000 or eeoc.gov (http://www.eeoc.gov/).

Acrylic bulb covers and even plain old lampshades can be a lifesaver for people with photo-sensitivity. For more consistent protection, the Health Sciences Center at the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City recommends 60-watt shielded compact fluorescent light bulbs, also called “encapsulated” or "double-envelope" bulbs. Your best bet is to ask a home lighting specialist at your local hardware store, but the Philips Marathon or Philips Daylight Energy Saving Bulbs (60-watt) are a good brand to choose. For covers, try North Solar Screen’s bulb jackets, which block up to 99% of ultraviolet light (northsolarscreen.com (http://www.northsolarscreen.com/)). NaturaLux (951-735-6285; naturalux.com (http://www.naturalux.com/)) offers fluorescent light filters, and discounts to LN readers. Also, the LFA, Winston-Triad Chapter works with a local light shield vendor who offers discounts to LFA members and LN readers. Call 336-768-1493.

06-25-2009, 01:26 PM
thanks oluwa,

the article provides in-depth information and advice....thanks

06-25-2009, 02:49 PM
AWWWW, THANK YOU OLUWA! YOu are a GOOD person, you HELP SO MUCH, i truely hope YOU are doing well these days. You DESERVE GOOD days and i am SENDING YOU A HUG:heart::hug:

06-25-2009, 03:38 PM

I am glad that you posted this. When I was sick last year (I didn't realize at the time it was a flare) the lights in my office were excruciatingly painful on my eyes. I was wearing my sunglasses indoors everywhere I went. The eye doctor had no reason for it but diagnosed me with dry eye at that time. I really thought that I was imagining the photosensativity when it all started but there was just no ignoring the migraines, nausea, eye pain. Now, I still find flourescents a little irritating at times, and also the brightness of an overcast day is too harsh for me. It's weird because the sun will also bother my eyes but I find it easier to deal with the sun then the flourescent light bulbs.

01-06-2012, 10:14 PM
Thanks for this helpful info!

01-07-2012, 02:52 PM
I have a horrible time with UV lights. From my office to to the grocery store I have to cover myself from head to toe. So often people don't know or forget that these can be an issue.

Good advice

01-07-2012, 03:58 PM
I have an issue at work also; and the sad thing is I can't turn them off. Thanks for bumping this up

01-07-2012, 09:34 PM
Hubby got rid of all the CFLs in the house and went with LED lightbulbs. Cost him a small fortune but they are supposed to last decades. I had a CFL lightbulb next to my chair on the right side (I'm a lefty) and it was horrible! My fair felt like it was on fire. Since changing to LED bulbs I've not had any problems and our electric bill dropped dramatically. The office I'll be working in soon has old fashioned fluorescent bulbs but the 2 weeks I temped there, they didn't bother me as long as I wore sunscreen. There are certain big box stores I can't be in very long because of the lights and there are others it doesn't bother me at all.

01-19-2012, 03:44 PM
My hubby did the same thing! It HELPED tremendously!!! WOO HOO for LED!!!!

01-19-2012, 04:32 PM
I just want to add to the parade for LED's - they are expensive, and don't come in very bright wattages yet, but they are an energy and health-saver. They are EXPENSIVE, but they seem to last forever.

I read someplace that in many parts of Europe, they have banned the sale of incandescent (regular, old-fashioned) bulbs, but that your doctor can give you a prescription so you can buy them. Kinda funny, the idea of buying lightbulbs from your pharmacist....but at least they acknowledge that some people really do have horrible sensitivities to them.

there are several big-box stores around here that have unshielded flourescents, and I break into a flop-sweat the second I walk in the door - takes me a full day or more to recover from 15 minutes of shopping. Nothing horribly dramatic, but it's like INSTANT flu...feverish, body aches, dry mouth, etc. My poor husband can't enjoy an afternoon ogling gadgets at Best Buy without me complaining, LOL....thank goodness Costco has lots of skylights.....

01-20-2012, 12:50 PM
It's ironic that SO MANY people are sick with an illness that WORSENS with UV lights BUT ALL the Drs. offices we go see to "HELP US" are as bright as they could possibly be with that very lighting! My husband and i KNOW i will flare BAD every visit just from walking in the door. HOSPITALS as well! I believe a CHANGE is in order!