Do LEDs cause blindness?

Debunking a rumor while raising some alarm.


LEDs, along with lithium-ion batteries, are one of the big automotive tool crazes. Tool vendors sell flashlights galore that have excellent run time and immense brightness, thanks to LEDs.

Cliplight sent my shop a Hemitech One drop light to test out and let me tell you, that light must be the brightest thing I have ever looked that, the sun itself excluded. So, one day my light guy comes in to service my old-school drop lights that break all the time and he didn't take too kindly to the new Cliplight.

"LEDs cause blindness, you know," he says to us in the shop. "I knew this old guy who was looking at his brake lights, they were LED brake lights. Now, he's legally blind. LEDs screw up your eyes."

You would think this story would elicit more of a response from us in the shop, but being that we breathe in chemicals all day and work on vehicles, which is dangerous in and of itself, we merely muttered an "oh really."

Then, this one morning I was curious whether there was any truth to the rumors that LEDs cause blindness. Research shows that maybe, if you stare right at them for prolonged periods of time, they can damage your retinas.

This seems to me like common sense. If I stare at a regular light bulb too long, it will mess up my vision. So, all of us out there using LED worklights should be in the clear, as long as we don't purposely stare at the lights themselves as opposed to looking at what we are shining our flashlight towards.

Now, if you are still "scared" I suggest you stop using computers and cell phones, many of which use LED displays. Because, unlike flashlights, you very purposely stare right at them.

We might lose a great deal of our vision one day, but it will more likely be caused by using tablets than LED worklights.