Ring lights are used for shooting videos or going on live streams, which means you’ll be exposed to them for hours at a time. If you have ever felt your eyes getting fatigued by them, you’ve probably wondered if they’re safe for your eyes.
Most ring lights consist of LED lights, which can hurt your eyes in various ways, including eye strain, fatigue, and other issues. There’s a lack of documented research to prove the risks of ring lights in particular, but the harmful effects of prolonged LED exposure are proven.
This article will discuss the risks associated with prolonged exposure to ring lights and list some recommended best practices to prevent any severe damage to your eyes. Let’s get started!
- 1 3 Important Things To Know About Ring Lights
- 2 Impact of Blue Light Exposure
- 3 Dangers of Rapid Flickering
- 4 Impact of Ring Light Brightness on Retina
- 5 Ring Light Usage Tips for Eye Safety and Protection
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 Sources
3 Important Things To Know About Ring Lights
Frankly, there isn’t sufficient proof that using ring lights can harm your eyes. However, there’s plenty of research that has been done on exposure to LED lights. As ring lights commonly consist of LEDs, the dangers will thus be the same.
Exposure to ring light LEDs for long periods can also lead to irreversible damage to your retina. Some associated risk factors include rapid light flickering and blue light — potentially leading to age-related macular degeneration.
Let’s discuss some of the known risk factors of LEDs.
For more information, check out to see if Ring Lights are good for Zoom Calls.
Impact of Blue Light Exposure
Thanks to LEDs, ring lights are much more energy-efficient than bulb-based studio lights of the past. LEDs consume about 20% as much power and combine red, green, and blue light to produce white light. Whiter ring lights have more blue light.
Like any other high-energy light, such as UV rays from the sun, blue lights can be harmful to your eyes.
As mentioned above, LEDs (and hence ring lights) produce high levels of blue light. Intense blue lights — especially with prolonged exposure — can increase your risk of eye disease. It’s also linked to a decline in sleep quality and issues with our natural circadian rhythms.
While there aren’t many studies that provide conclusive evidence on the detrimental effects of ring lights on human eyes, it’s safe to assume that they can affect your eye health with prolonged use. That assumption is based on all the studies on the impact of blue light and LEDs on human eyes.
According to some studies, blue light can also harm your retina. Higher quality ring lights with certifications on limited eye strain are safer to use, but even using them at high brightness for hours can be damaging.
Moreover, the effects of blue light from LEDs are well-researched. The ANSES Opinion is that blue light causes disturbances in your sleep patterns and headaches, eye strain, eye damage, migraine, and other symptoms.
If you have dimmable ring lights, using them at lower brightness levels can somewhat mitigate these risk factors by reducing eye strain.
Dangers of Rapid Flickering
The LEDs in ring lights have rapid flickering, which only gets worse as you bring down the brightness. You won’t be able to notice it with naked eyes as the flicker occurs at such a high rate, but whip out a camera, and you’ll see it clearly due to differences in frame rate.
LEDs in ring lights can flicker thousands of times every second. While you won’t be able to see them flicker, being exposed to flickering ring lights for long periods can cause headaches, dizziness, eye movement dysfunction, double vision, and other health problems.
Impact of Ring Light Brightness on Retina
As ring lights are widely used to ensure your face is well-lit in video shoots or live streams, they’re often positioned directly in front of you. The camera is positioned at the center of the ring to ensure balanced lighting. However, this also means that you’d be looking directly towards the bright ring light, which can damage your eyes.
Staring at bright ring lights can over-stimulate your retina, potentially causing irreversible harm over time.
Compared to warmer light, blue light is more intense, higher-energy, and brighter. While that’s great for producing well-lit scenes, the shorter wavelengths can take a toll on your retinal cells in the form of photothermal damage.
Besides slowly damaging your retinas, years of blue light exposure can add up and lead to increased risks of age-related macular degeneration. Macular degeneration relates to distortion in your central vision and retina damage.
The retina isn’t the only part of your eye that’s at risk due to bright ring lights and their blue light emissions. Other critical structures of your eye, like the cornea or the iris, can also be affected by ring light LEDs if they’re used carelessly for extended video recording sessions.
Ring Light Usage Tips for Eye Safety and Protection
While the risk factors associated with ring lights are concerning, you can minimize them by following safety tips whenever you’re exposed to ring lights – or any other LED for that matter.
Most potential eye damage from ring lights can be avoided through practices like dimming the brightness and limiting your exposure. Here are a few tips your can follow:
Use Two Ring Lights
Your center vision is the most likely to get affected due to retinal damage from LED lights. To avoid it, you could place your ring light to one side of your vision as you record videos.
However, if you move the light to the side, the other side of your face would get covered in shadow. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. All you need is another ring light on the other side for balanced lighting without having a ring light in your direct vision line.
Take Well-Timed Breaks
The damages and risks of using ring lights can be significantly reduced by taking well-timed breaks. For instance, if you’re shooting a video, make sure you follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet (6.09 meters) away for about 20 seconds before turning the ring light back on.
In a research study conducted on 795 university students, 90% experienced eye-strain symptoms after 2 hours of computer usage. However, taking regular breaks to look far away noticeably reduced their digital strain symptoms. Hence, the 20/20/20 rule works well against the risks of LED exposure!
Also, make sure you blink often, as that’s one of the best ways to reduce eye strain naturally.
Keep Your Ring Light at a Distance
Another way of reducing the potential damages of ring lights is to position them sufficiently far away. You might have to avoid some close-ups, but that’s worth it to ensure the safety and protection of your eyesight.
For reference, you can add another ’20’ to the 20/20/20 rule we’ve discussed above. By that, I mean make sure the right light is positioned at least 20 inches (50.8 cm) away from you.
Go With Branded Ring Lights
The price range of modern ring lights can vary vastly, but make sure you don’t try to save too much money on them. That’s because branded lights are more likely to follow high industry standards and quality controls to minimize eye strain.
Limit Your Exposure
One of the most obvious ways to reduce damage from a light source is to avoid it altogether. Hence, make sure you limit your ring light exposure as much as possible. Also, don’t forget to turn it off as soon as you’re done with the shoot and between shots as you check your footage.
LED lights are everywhere, from your computer screens to your phone. Older ring lights were based on fluorescent lights, but most modern ones have LEDs that can potentially harm your eyes and vision.
These lights produce significant levels of blue light, which are higher energy and shorter wavelength than all other colors. They also involve rapid flickering, which can cause headaches, dizziness, and several vision problems. However, most of these risks can be reduced with the tips I’ve shared above.
- WebMD: How Blue Light Can Affect Your Health
- WebMD: How Blue Light Hurts Sleep
- CNN: Led Lights Damage Eyes and Disturb Sleep
- NCBI: Digital Eye Strain
- Anses: Effects of Systems Using LEDs
- Gerstein Eye Institute: How Does Bright Light Affect Your Vision?
- Healthline: How Does the 20-20-20 Rule Prevent Eye Strain?
- Nepal Journals Online: Computer Vision Syndrome